The chair of BARAC UK has heavily criticised the damage this flight could cause
After news that the government plans to deport 50 people to Jamaica on Tuesday 11 February, one group fighting against this called it “racist, unjust and inhumane”.
BARAC UK, which stands for Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, have spoken to Left Foot Forward about the damage this decision could cause.
The group are among those who are campaigning against this flight and calling for the government to cancel the deportation. They say nothing should happen until the a full review into the Windrush scandal has been published.
People scheduled to be on the flight are those who have been convicted for criminal offences in the past, and the PM said it’s his right that these foreign-born people are deported.
More than 170 MPs have also urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to halt plans to deport these people. This comes after a leaked early version of the Windrush report suggested the government should not deport offenders who came to the UK as children. Tomorrow’s flight includes a man who moved to the UK at age five.
Previously the Home Office said the flight is “specifically for removing foreign criminals” and it included “people convicted of manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing Class A drugs”.
Yet law firm Duncan Lewis, representing some people due to be on the flight, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that the flight may also contain “potential victims of trafficking, groomed as children by drugs gangs running county lines networks and later pursued in the criminal justice system as serious offenders”.
“It is damaging to the whole Caribbean community”
Speaking of the injustice around this flight, Zita Holbourne, co-founder and national chair BARAC UK said: “These are British people, it’s just that they were not born in the UK. Most have spent their whole lives here. They have multi-generational British families and dependants.
“It is damaging to the whole Caribbean community still dealing with the Windrush scandal impacts on us. It is a kick in the teeth and complete disregard for us as human beings.
“They have irresponsibly painted a picture of people as foreign hardcore criminals. Some have been criminalised by virtue of their immigration status, some did sentences of just months, some were groomed, they served their time and are now facing triple punishment.”
Rather than labelling this issue as a repeat of the Windrush scandal as some are, Zita calls it a “continuation”.
“These are people whose parents or grandparents are Windrush generation,” Zita said.
“Restorative justice must take place.”
“They came to the UK to join them. The full impact of Windrush scandal has not been addressed. The vast majority have not been compensated. The government has caused enough pain, torture, racism and anguish for Caribbean communities in the UK. It must stop. Restorative justice must take place.”
If the flight tomorrow does go ahead, Zita believes people will be “stigmatised” and “demonised” in Jamaica as criminals.
“They will be destitute and isolated. Their families are in the UK. They will be dependent on charities on the ground which are under resourced.
“They won’t be able to get work. They will be homeless. I have people contacting me from Jamaica destitute and am then contacting charities there asking if they can help with shelter or a meal.
“People will be impacted by mental and physical ill health. They may out of no choice turn to crime, be forced into it or groomed. Several fear for their lives and believe they will be murdered.
“People will be impacted by mental and physical ill health”
“There is also an impact on families left behind. Partners struggling to make ends meet and with childcare.”
Zita explained they have already received reports that two people have committed suicide, families are struggling and the children left behind are having serious problems, like doing badly at school, wetting the bed and showing signs of poor health.
When asked about what the governemnt should do, Zita said: “The Windrush lessons learned leaked report recommends that those who came to the UK as children should not be deported.
“There needs to be publication and full implementation of all recommendations. We have called for an independent public inquiry into the Windrush scandal.”
Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.
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