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Despite a protest staged outside the Jamaican High Commission in London, the British Government deported 42 Jamaicans. And they’re claiming they were tricked and are calling the expulsions unjust.
The deportees, some carrying only one bag of personal possessions, arrived in Kingston on a chartered flight on Wednesday and were taken to Mobile Reserve, the police unit at Merrion Road, where they were processed before being released to anxious relatives.
One irate middle-aged man said he was sent back to Jamaica over a “few bags of weed. He accused the British authorities of “using racism and bullyism” to effect the deportations and called the Jamaican Government a “sell-out”.
He said he had already completed over four months of his nine-month sentence, but the immigration authorities held him for another four months. “Then dem just say time to deport you. I appealed everything, and they turned down everything and pushed it aside,” the man told journalists.
The Unity Centre, an immigration and asylum support group that opposes the move by the British Government, said the sentiment amongst the deportees is that they were conned and manipulated.
“People issued tickets for the charter flight on Wednesday have complied with the conditions imposed on them by the Home Office. They have succumbed to the Home Office’s every demand and now feel like they have been tricked and kidnapped. Each person told the same story — they went to sign at the Home Office reporting centre as required and were tricked,” the Unity Centre said earlier this week in a news release headlined ‘Home Office Restarts Racist Jamaica Charter Flights’.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper on Tuesday, in its report on the protest over the deportations outside the Jamaican High Commission in south-west London, pointed out that some of the deportees were still fighting their immigration cases.
“Critics have raised questions about the tactics used by Home Office immigration enforcement, which has been accused of ‘strategically’ detaining individuals to fill the flight, without consideration of their circumstances,” the Guardian said.
The Jamaica Observer was told that among the deportees were elderly individuals, some of whom have lived their entire lives in England.
The Glasgow-based Unity Centre said it has been in contact with more than 50 Jamaicans detained by UK immigration and that, “everyone we have spoken to has been here since they were children and have no family or friends in Jamaica.”
“Their lives are here in the UK. Everyone we have spoken to has British family, children and partners, even grandchildren and extended family. Many individuals have ongoing immigration cases and most cannot afford to pay the huge legal fees to regularise their stay…Their lives are here in the UK. Everyone we have spoken to has British family, children and partners, even grandchildren and extended family,” the solidarity group stated.
The Unity Centre further argued that many of those detained for deportation were “swept up” as part of a controversial initiative named ‘Operation Nexus’. “Some of the people we spoke to, due to be deported on Wednesday, have never even been convicted of a crime. Those that have served custodial sentences served their sentences. This is simply a racist double punishment,” the group alleged.
Yesterday, Jamaica’s foreign affairs ministry said it has been advised by the Ministry of National Security that “such flights have previously been used over the past several years, under a Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of Jamaica and the United Kingdom, which addresses such matters”.
Treasurer of the National Organisation of Deported Migrants Dwight Jones told the media that the organisation stood ready to assist the deportees with information, transportation, and direct those who would be homeless to shelters.