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Fears grow of a second Windrush scandal

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
There have been many protests against the latest wave of deportations

The Home Office has started to deport Jamaicans back to their home country, in part as a show of defiance to ongoing legal challenges to the deportations.

It is understood that 17 people were deported in a Home Office flight this morning. A further 25 Jamaicans were saved by last-minute legal challenges but there is no guarantee they won’t be deported in the near future.

The government maintains the people deported are all convicted criminals who have been handed down prison sentences of 12 months or more.

But critics say that most of the people deported – or awaiting deportation – committed only minor offences.

Another mitigating factor is that most of them came to the UK as children and sending them back to Jamaica – a country they hardly know – would constitute a cruel punishment.  

Second Windrush? 

The deportations have brought back uncomfortable memories of the Windrush scandal where scores of Jamaicans, who were either born in Britain or had lived there for decades, were wrongly detained and deported, without any judicial process.

There have been growing calls on the government to stop the latest round of deportations before a comprehensive report into the Windrush scandal has been published.

Bella Sankey, director of campaign group Detention Action, told the BBC that: "in these cases where people have been here for a long time and are to all intents and purposes British, by deporting individuals like that you are doubly punishing them”.

"For many of these individuals deportation is a much harsher sentence than the time they've already served … Imagine being forever banished from the country you grew up in, unable to visit all of your close family and friends”, Sankey added.

Tottenham MP David Lammy (who is of Guyanese origin) said: "the government wants to give the impression that everyone who was deported was a hardened violent criminal, but the reality is many of those who were scheduled to be deported had committed non-violent, one-time drugs offences”.  

"The lessons from Windrush have not been learned. Lives are being ruined because we don't remember our history", Lammy added.

Hardline approach 

For its part, the government seems determined to press ahead with the deportations, no matter how high the political or moral cost.

Hardline Chancellor Sajid Javid told BBC Radio 5 Live that: "it is absolutely right that when they [the Jamaicans] have served their sentence that we send them out of the country”.

"They are not British nationals, they are not members of the Windrush generation, they are all foreign national offenders", Javid added.

Behind the scenes, it is believed that one of the driving forces for a tougher immigration policy is Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial chief special adviser.

Cummings described last night’s Court of Appeal suspension of some of the deportations as “a perfect symbol of the British state’s dysfunction”.

He is reported to have said that there must be “urgent action on the farce that judicial review has become”.





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