Dozens of Jamaican nationals, many of whom have lived in the UK since they were young children and have British children, have been detained in recent days and are facing removal from the country within days.
At least 34 people have been issued deportation orders for a charter flight to Jamaica scheduled for 11 August on the basis that they have committed crimes in the past, in what campaigners say amounts to “double punishment”.
A number of the individuals who were detained in recent weeks and told they would be deported have since had their removal directions cancelled following intervention from lawyers, raising questions about the Home Office’s decision to detain them.
Ahead of a previous charter flight to Jamaica in December 2020, the Home Office made an agreement with the Jamaican High Commission not to deport anyone who had lived in the UK since before they were 12 years old - but that agreement has been abandoned.
Campaign group Movement for Justice is collating information about the deportees and has so far taken detailed information from 10 people, of whom five moved to the UK when they were under the age of 12, with one having arrived aged three months old and not left the country since.
Of those the group has surveyed, nine have lived in the UK for more than 20 years, with one having been in the country for more than 30. The least amount of time one of those questioned has been in Britain is 19 years.
Many of the deportees also have British children, with 23 youngsters said to be set to lose their fathers if the flight goes ahead with all of the deportees on board, according to Movement for Justice.
In one case, a father to five young British children who was detained for removal to the Caribbean country, which he left when he was 11, on the basis of one criminal conviction for drug offences in 2017. He had his removal directions cancelled after lawyers intervened.
In another, a man who has been in the UK for 20 years and has three British children is set to be deported on the basis of drug offences from more than a decade ago, which related to his own addiction and mental ill health. He is still facing removal on 11 August.
In a third case, Javaun Simpson, 25, is facing removal on the flight despite having been in the UK since he was eight and all of his family being based in the country.
The Manchester resident, who was detained in Colnbrook immigration removal centre in Heathrow last Thursday, told The Independent: “My head is everywhere - stress, anxiety. I’m scared. I have no one in Jamaica.
“I wouldn’t know where to go, where to start. It isn’t my home anymore - the UK is. All my family is in this country. I would be alone, stranded, not knowing what to do.”
Mr Simpson, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2017 and served eight months, added: “Just because someone has a criminal record doesn’t mean they’re going to be a danger to society. People change; I have changed.”
Movement for Justice said that the majority of the men were convicted of non-violent drug offences, and all have served the full time a judge deemed commensurate with their crime, with several having had a history of being abused and raised in the care of social services.
Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, called on the British and Jamaican governments to “hold the line” on not deporting people who have lived in Britain since they were young children.
She added: “People who have grown up in the UK or who have settled families here should not be doubly punished by deportation and the grotesque spectacle of mass deportations must be ended for good.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We make no apology for seeking to remove those with no right to remain in the UK and dangerous foreign criminals.
“That is why we regularly operate charter flights to different countries - to remove dangerous criminals, and those who have no right to be in the country but refuse to leave voluntarily.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies