A man with severe learning difficulties was among at least 20 people who were facing deportation to Jamaica on a Home Office flight scheduled for yesterday (Wednesday). Half of the detainees – held in Brook House, Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration removal centres – have direct links to the Windrush Generation and most arrived in the UK when they were children, campaigners claim.
Urgent legal action was launched to halt the deportation of the 34-year-old man, who has an IQ of 55 and is vulnerable to exploitation, according to a clinical psychiatrist.
“He doesn’t understand what is happening to him,” his distraught mother said. “He didn’t want to talk to anyone,” she said, addressing his current mental state. “I don’t think he really understands.”
Even though he moved to the UK in 2000 at the age of 13 and has had Indefinite Leave to Remain status since 2007, the government has been trying to deport him for the last seven years after conviction for possession of a firearm, she claimed.
His mother stressed: “Everyone deserves a chance.
“We are all human beings, we all make mistakes. You are taking away his whole life. They’re taking him away from his child too.”
As her son’s sole carer, she’s looking after his eight-month-old baby while he was being kept in Brook House in Gatwick.
According to Karen Doyle, national organiser for Movement for Justice (MFJ) who has been working on the 20 cases, the man was “scared out of his mind and confused as hell about how he can be sent somewhere he doesn’t know”. She stressed: “The absolute bottom line was that sending him to Jamaica was a death sentence”.
A report from a disability specialist practitioner at HMP Wormwood Scrubs from 2017 stated: “During his time in prison he has had to be observed and supported quite a lot to ensure his safety at all times and to ensure his mental and physical needs are met and to ensure he is not further exploited or bullied by others in prison. He cannot live on his own, he is supported by his family.
“He cannot manage money, obtain shopping or cook meals; he would not be able to manage in paying bills or keeping up with appointments without the help and support from his mum and sister. I cannot see how he will be able to manage if he is deported as he is completely dependent on his mum for all his personal and social care needs and would not last very long in a country he is unfamiliar with.”
Four out of 33 detainees were deported to Jamaica after ‘last-minute’ claims in November 2021, home secretary Priti Patel said at the time. Some of the people originally scheduled to be on the flight which took off from Birmingham Airport are now believed to be on the list for this one.
According to MFJ, 13 people out of the 20 currently detained came to the UK under the age of 18, with 11 under the age of 12. The youngest was just one when he arrived, and most moved more than 20 years ago.
Campaigners stressed the Home Office’s actions signal the end of any agreement made between the two governments that people who arrived in the UK under the age of 12 should not be forcibly removed to Jamaica. A statement from the group said there were also 35 children at risk of losing their dads if today’s deportation flight goes ahead.
“We are hearing reports of teenage daughters crying, refusing to eat or go to school, mothers telling us of many tearful and distressed children,” it read. “The ages of the children range from new-born – whose father was taken only four days after birth – to 16-years-old. Several of the detainees have adult children and grandchildren here in the UK.”