PROTESTERS BROUGHT traffic to a standstill outside parliament this evening over the planned deportation of 50 people to Jamaica.
Campaigners met outside Downing Street before marching, undeterred by the stormy weather, to parliament to protest a charter deportation flight scheduled to leave the UK tomorrow.
In the face of widespread opposition from human rights campaigners and politicians, the government has showed no sign of recanting its decision to deport the individuals, some of whom have lived in the UK since they were children.
One campaigner told The Voice this evening that the government was determined to go ahead with the charter deportation flight because “Tories feel emboldened to carry on their racist agenda” as a result of the election result.
“A lot of the people involved, who are facing deportation right now, are in the middle of their appeal processes”Donna Guthrie, Barac UK women’s officer
Donna Guthrie, Barac UK women’s officer, said: “Under Priti Patel we seem to have exactly the same extension of the hostile environment in regards to just rounding up people, unnecessarily, who have rebuilt their lives after a criminal conviction and serving their sentence as anyone else would do…and are rounding them up and destroying their lives, basically.
“It’s happening because the Tories have won an election where they feel emboldened to carry on their racist agenda. They think they’ve got an 80-strong majority in the House of Commons, they can do as they like and ride roughshod over black bodies; and we as black activists along with our white allies are here to tell them that we’re not going to put up with it, we’re not going to allow people to be shackled like they are slaves on to planes to lands that they don’t know.”
Guthrie also expressed concern that some of those due to be deported had not been afforded due process.
“A lot of the people involved who are facing deportation right now are in the middle of their appeal processes and haven’t exhausted those processes,” she said. “Many of those people we believe should be allowed to do their in country appeals and shouldn’t be deported.”
Amid the protest it was reported that the government’s plans had been obstructed by a ruling from the Court of Appeal.
As a result of an emergency out-of-hours hearing on Monday night, the Home Office has been ordered against removing anyone from the two detention centres in question on Tuesday’s flight “unless satisfied (they) had access to a functioning, non-O2 sim card on or before 3 February”.
Due to recent issues with the O2 network in Heathrow detention centres numerous people have not been able to contact their lawyers.
Responding to the ruling a Home Office spokeswoman said that they urged the judge to reconsider the ruling.
Windrush justice campaigner Sara Burke, who braved the wind and rain to make a stand at this evening’s protest, told The Voice that the issue was particularly close to her heart.
“I think that what the government are doing is that they’re showing that they haven’t learned a thing from the Windrush scandal; and people like to say that the two are not connected, however, they are connected at the end of the day.
“And this is a deportation flight that’s going to Jamaica – there are people on it who may well have claims under the compensation scheme, we don’t know. So at this point all we are asking the government to do is just to wait; publish your own Lessons Learned review, see what the recommendations are, try to implement them before you start rounded people up and just willy nilly deporting them like this. I’m actually quite incensed by the whole thing.”
She added: “I think even if the flight takes off tomorrow, nonetheless, I think it’s important for the government to see that we’re not just going to take this lying down that there is significant opposition to what they’re doing, to the hostile environment policy to their entire immigration agenda. I do think that [protesting] does make some difference in showing that there is a resistance to this and they cannot just get away with doing whatever it is that they like.”
Dawn Butler is among the MPs whose constituents have been affected by the calling on the home secretary to stop the deportation of a father who has lived in the UK since he was 11 years old.
Reshawn Davis is one of dozens of people who are scheduled to be deported from the UK to Jamaica on a charter flight tomorrow.
The government is seeking to deport Davis from the UK on the grounds that he was convicted of robbery 10 years ago under the now defunct joint enterprise law.
Now 30 years old, a father to a six-month-old daughter and husband to a British woman, Davis is facing being deported to Jamaica and separated from his family.
In her letter, Butler wrote: “I only became aware of this situation on the 4th February 2020 but understand that Reshawn came to the UK as a 11-year-old child in 2001 and held Indefinite Leave to Remain.”
She added: “My constituent does not present a risk and there does not appear to be any public benefit in seeking his removal from the United Kingdom.”
Butler said the intended deportation would “tragically tear apart” the young family, and result in Davis returning to a country where he has no family.
Over 150 cross-party MPs have called on Boris Johnson to stop the flight, from taking off.
Labour MP David Lammy delivered a passionate speech in the Commons today in which he asked: “When will black lives matter once again?”