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U.K. Activists to Stage Protest over Mass Deportation of Jamaican Residents Who Lived in Country for Decades

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Activists in the U.K. plan to push back against plans for several Jamaican citizens to board a charter plane from Great Britain back to Jamaica.

According to The Guardian, a demonstration planned by the activists is set to take place at the Jamaican embassy Wednesday morning where they will denounce a charter deportation flight headed to the island nation. The arrangements were reportedly made in cooperation with the Jamaican government.

Activists argue that Jamaicans, young and old, are being forcibly removed from the U.K. despite residing in the nation for a considerable amount of time. Some of these men and women are still fighting to get their immigration/asylum cases straightened out so that they can stay in the country.

Immigration activists have also criticized the tactics of the Home Office immigration enforcement, who they accuse of purposely detaining deportees in order to fill the flight.

“In the last few weeks, hundreds of individuals previously released on bail and temporary admission have been detained, in a deliberate act to prepare for this charter flight to Jamaica,” immigration support collective The Unity Centre said in a press release Monday. “Many individuals have ongoing immigration cases and most cannot afford to pay the huge legal fees to regularize their stay. 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.”

The collective went on to state that all but one deportee had British children. Some individuals had been married to British nationals for over 10 years while others served as primary caretakers of their partners.

So how would they provide care to their loved ones now? The Home Office reportedly advised them to maintain family ties via video messaging services like Skype.

“Immigration Judges tell us we can maintain our family life over Skype,” a man who wished to be identified by the name *Ray said. “But how can you take your child to school through Skype? How can you have a relationship with your wife over Skype?”

According to The Guardian, Hillary Brown, managing director of the South London law firm Virgo Consultancy Services, said she has already managed to pull a few deportees from the flight by filing judicial reviews of the questionable actions taken by the Home Office.

One of those people is a 60-year-old woman whose application for permanent residence was tied up in so much red tape that her husband died before it could be processed. The woman was later informed that she could no longer stay in the country since her husband had died, the news site reports. She was seized by immigration officials Friday night despite having children and grandchildren who live in the U.K.

“Whilst we were writing back and forth to the Home Office and they are asking for all kinds of different evidence and documents and an explanation for this and an explanation for that, all of a sudden they grabbed her last week and were going to put her on this flight,” Brown explained.

According to activists, this is the first immigrant deportation flight to Jamaica since November 2015. It’s suspected that the Home Office rushed to get people on the plane and back to the island nation before they had time to seek legal counsel.

The Unity Centre reports that deportees will have a chance to appeal their cases once they’re back in Jamaica. This doesn’t ensure a fair trial, however.

“From The Unity Centre’s experience of continued contact with individuals given out of country appeal rights, it is clear that the uncertain and sometimes extremely volatile conditions in Jamaica essentially mean that individuals have in effect no right of appeal,” the immigration support collective wrote.

“Let us be clear, this is collective expulsion,” it added. “The people set to fly on Wednesday are not those with particularly weak cases; they’ve been rounded up because they’re Jamaican. Black lives don’t matter to this government.”

 

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