Jamaicans with disabilities who came to UK as children facing ‘unjust and inhumane’ deportation

·3-min read
Protesters block Downing Street last week over plans to deport 50 offenders (PA)
Protesters block Downing Street last week over plans to deport 50 offenders (PA)

Most of the Jamaicans facing deportation next week on a government flight live with a disability or health problem and came to Britain as children, according to analysis shared with The Independent.

The Home Office has not disclosed how many are scheduled to be on Wednesday’s flight, but about 20 have been detained at Brook House, Colnbrook and Harmondsworth detention centres in preparation. Thirteen of them came to the UK under the age of 18, according to a study by campaigners Movement for Justice.

All except two have reported mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety, while several have made attempts on their life. There are also others with schizophrenia, bipolar or obsessive-compulsive disorder and several with post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis who are deemed vulnerable.

Karen Doyle, a lead campaigner with Movement for Justice, told The Independent: “There are an extremely high number of people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions. Often people who were failed multiple times from childhood, by schools, by social services, by the criminal justice system.

“This flight more than any other exposes the racist brutality of charter flight deportations. The vast majority [of deportees] have been in the UK for over two years, the majority came to the UK as children. These are culturally and socially British citizens regardless of the paperwork. For the people who came as children, they were priced out of the citizenship which would have protected them against deportation.

“This is transportation, not deportation. Working-class Black people who are being shipped off to a country many barely remember and have little connection to. This is devastating when Priti Patel has spent years building stigma around these flights being full of ‘rapists and murderers’ so that all will be labelled and targeted when they land in Jamaica.”

Two of those set to be deported report chronic pain, one has possible Crohn’s disease, one has asthma and further trouble breathing as a result of a mental plate inserted in his face after he was attacked as a child, the analysis highlighted. One has a hole in his heart and learning difficulties that mean he needs constant care from his mother.

At least five have serious learning disabilities, with some unable to communicate as a result, the survey uncovered.

The passengers’ ages range from 24 to 49. Nineteen of the 20 have criminal convictions, though all have served their time and have been rehabilitated back into society.

At least one person facing removal has no criminal convictions.

In November 2020, the Home Office and Jamaica’s high commissioner to the UK, Seth Ramocan, forged an agreement that would see Britain refrain from deporting people who arrived in the UK under the age of 12.

Movement for Justice said the flight on Wednesday signals the end of this accord, describing it as “fundamentally unjust and inhuman”.

“When the Jamaican High Commission reached an agreement for one flight and that no one who came to the UK under age 12 should be on that flight – it was for very good reason,” Ms Doyle added.

“That reason still exists and that agreement should still exist. These men were raised in the UK, schooled in the UK, their crimes were made in the UK, not Jamaica.”

Immigration solicitor Jacqueline McKenzie said: “Curiously, this charter lists just 25 people – pointless until you get to understand the home secretary hopes to benefit politically from the optics of two further Jamaica flights this year.

“They’re holding people in reserve for this grisly operation.”

Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) has condemned the flight, saying: “Next week’s mass deportation flight to Jamaica on 18 May 2022 is an injustice that cannot be allowed to take place. If it goes ahead, the flight will tear apart Black British families and communities, traumatise children and exile people who are British in all but paperwork.”

Since April 2020, the UK government has run at least 75 charter flights to deport people to countries including Nigeria, Romania, Bulgaria and Jamaica.

The Home Office has been approached for comment.

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