The British government is pressing ahead with its decision to deport 50 people to Jamaica on a chartered flight.
The pushback follows widespread criticism and demands for the deportation to be cancelled. The flight is due to depart the UK on 11 February.
Why is this happening?
The Independent's May Bulman reports that Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak has insisted that those set to be forcibly removed on Tuesday – on the second charter flight to the country since the Windrush scandal – had committed “very serious offences” such as rape and murder, and their deportations were “reasonable”.
Why are people angry about this?
Contrary to Sunak's insistence, it has emerged that in a number of cases those facing deportation have committed less serious crimes.
Some of the crimes include supplying drugs and were only committed once many years ago, so people are questioning whether deportation is reasonable or justified. The Home Office would not release any breakdown on the nature of offences committed by those scheduled to be on the flight, casting further doubts on the process.
Many of the deportees have also been in the UK for decades and have children here. Reshawn Davis, 30, has been in the UK since he was 11 and has a child.
He told the Independent:
I’m so stressed out. I can’t even explain how I feel. Yes I was born in Jamaica, but I was brought up here. I don’t know anything else. I made one mistake in life, and it feels like I tried to kill the Queen.
I look at my daughter’s pictures now every night before I go to bed. Since she was born I never had never spent a night without her until I was locked in here. I still reach for her when I wake up. I’m not one of those to leave my wife to do it by herself. I want to be there for them both.
I’m terrified to go to Jamaica. My cousin was deported and he has now died. People will be hostile to me because I’ve been deported. I’m going to be targeted.
He’s not the only father on the flight, either.
It has been reported that at least 41 British children are at risk of losing their fathers as a result of the scheduled deportation.
Given the Conservative government’s very recent history of deporting British citizens to the Caribbean, it’s not difficult to understand why people are angry and upset about the prospect of parents who’ve committed minor crimes being deported to countries they haven’t lived in since childhood.
What can you do?
One of the most effective ways to voice your opposition to these deportations is to contact your MP.
More than 170 cross-party MPs have written a letter calling on Boris Johnson to halt the flight until the publication of the Windrush lessons learned review. A draft of this review was leaked to the press last week and it reportedly recommends that people who arrived in the UK as children shouldn’t be deported.
But just in case your MP isn’t one of the 170 signatories, there’s still time to get in touch to persuade them.
There’s an email template here, which provides some context to the situation and suggests reasons why the flight shouldn’t go ahead. People who want to can use portions of the text, or the letter in full, to tell their MP that the flight should be stopped until further information can be learned about the specific crimes committed and the individuals involved.
H/T: The Independent.