Plans to deport Jamaican nationals who arrived in the UK as children causes huge outcry

The move to deport several Jamaican nationals who came to the UK as children has been put into place despite the Home Office agreeing that they would not remove anyone who arrived in the UK under 12 years of age.

Preparations are in place to deport nationals in what appears to be a reversal of the previous agreement which clearly stated that people who had arrived in the UK as minors would not be deported.

The first charter flight to return dozens of people to Jamaica is set for August 11th. Those who are being deported have criminal convictions which have triggered the deportation orders.

Campaigners, however, have protested about the unreasonableness of deporting people who have spent most of their lives in the UK, to a country where they may have no ties at all.

In November 2020 the Home Office entered into an agreement with Jamaican officials to not remove people who had arrived in the UK when they were younger than 12 years of age.

Jamaican High Commissioner Seth Romacan stated that the Home Office had agreed to an age limit and that request had been granted.

What is still unclear is whether this request was only granted for a Jamaican deportation flight which went ahead in December 2020.

On the upcoming flight back to Jamaica is a man who arrived in the UK as a 2-year-old child. He is now 23 years old and being deported for a drugs offence.

In a telephone interview the man (who wants to remain anonymous) stated that he attended nursery, reception, primary and secondary schools in the UK. He has not been on a plane since he was two years old.

When asked about his offence, the man admitted that he had committed the drugs offence and had subsequently completed his two-year sentence. He feels that the deportation is a double punishment.

He does not consider himself to be a ‘foreign criminal’ as he has spent all his life in England. He will leave his two-year-old son in the UK along with his mother who is unwell.

The Home Office, in 2018 commissioned a report from Stephen Shaw, the former prisons and probation ombudsman, to ask for a new approach to be set out regarding the policy of detaining and deporting people who had lived most of their lives in the UK and committed crimes. This recommendation has not been implemented by the Home Office.

A spokesperson for the Movement of Justice (an immigration rights campaign group) questioned 19 people who are due to be deported on August 11th. Karen Doyle said that 6 of them had arrived in the UK under the age of 12, with 5 of them spending some time during their childhood in the care system.

Three of those people who had arrived at an early age (one as young as three months) had had their deportations tickets cancelled in the last two days. However, several are still scheduled to be deported.

Ms Doyle stated that deporting people who had been raised in the UK, attended British schools and been in the care system brought very little public support, even when they were returned to countries that they did not remember.

Director of the charity Detention Action, Bella Sankey said that many of the people who were scheduled to leave on 11th August had come to the UK as children. They are in fact ‘as British as the Union Jack.’

The Jamaican government should – said Ms Sankey – insist that the UK uphold the agreement and stop the deportation of this group of people. ‘There is no valid reason for this inhumane practice.’

A spokesperson for the Home Office said that any person coming to this country and committing crimes can be expected to be deported.

This is the reason why the Home Office regularly operates flights to other countries. It is simply to remove offenders, along with those people who have no right to be in the UK and have either failed or refused to leave voluntarily.

The Jamaican High Commission has been asked to comment.


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