British children and partners of men set to be deported on a controversial charter flight to Jamaica within hours have warned their deportation will tear their families apart and impact their lives for years to come.
Dozens of Jamaican nationals, some of whom have lived in the UK since childhood and have British children themselves, have been arrested and held in removal centers over the past two weeks in preparation for the mass deportation.
Many have since had their tickets canceled after lawyers intervened, leaving a dozen people at risk of dismissal. They are all deported on the basis of previous criminal convictions, some serious, but others that were non-violent offenses committed several years ago.
The planned flight was mired in controversy, with critics angry with the Home Office for issuing removal instructions to those who arrived as young children, despite a previous decision not to do so , and public health concerns after a number of inmates tested positive for Covid-19.
A Jamaican government source said The independent that a meeting was held on Tuesday morning in which Kingston asked the Home Office not to proceed with the theft, citing concerns about the spread of Covid – but their request appears to have been ignored.
The Home Office said it carefully managed charter flight operations and only removed people when it was safe, adding that everyone on board would be seen by a medical professional before departure.
Beyond public health concerns, The independent heard from partners and children of those deported about the devastating impact the estrangement will have on their family lives, with activists accusing ministers of “state-sanctioned child harm on a massive scale.”
The Movement for Justice campaign group says more than a dozen black children are at risk of losing their fathers as a result of the charter flight.
Nico McLean, 17, whose father Sanjay McLean is at risk of dismissal despite being eligible for UK citizenship under the Windrush program, said he felt “shocked” and “anxious” at the idea of ââhis parent being kicked out of the country.
“All this bothers my head – it’s my dad.” We have a close bond. He’s always there to talk to me; whenever I need advice he tells me what I need to hear, âhe said. The independent.
âIt makes me so anxious. To see your father regularly to being told that he is expelled from the country in which he has lived since he was younger than me nowâ¦ It all really touches me.
Nico, who does not live with his father but sees him every fortnight and talks to him regularly, said he was worried about the impact his estrangement would have on him and his seven-year-old half-brother.
âBesides affecting my father, it will affect me and my little brother. How do you explain to a seven-year-old that he won’t see your father? “
The 17-year-old has challenged government claims that his father – who was fired on the basis of an ABH offense in 2014 – and other deported people are “dangerous criminals”.
âHe is neither bad nor dangerous. There are times when people make mistakes, but you learn from them. People deserve to be given a second chance to prove that they recognize their mistakes, âhe added.
âA lot of my friends live with their mothers and fathers, so for me knowing that I might not see him is a little heartbreaking. It makes me think, why can’t I have both of my parents here?
Another father facing deportation, Akeem Finlay, 31, has four British children all under the age of 10. He lives in Croydon with the youngest, a 10 month old daughter, and sees the other three regularly, especially his eight and six years old. – one-year-old sons that he recovers at school most of the time.
His current girlfriend and ex-partner, who also lives in Croydon, said The independent he has a close bond with his children as well as with his five-year-old stepson. Mr Finlay plays a crucial role in the care of their children, allowing the two women to work.
He is at risk of being fired on the basis of a GBH offense in 2014, for which he was sentenced to six years in prison and served just over two years. He has not had any convictions since. He arrived in the UK at the age of 10 after being the victim of a gang attack in Jamaica at the age of nine.
Shana, Mr Finlay’s ex-wife, with whom he has two sons aged eight and six, said The independent his dismissal may force him to stop working or reduce his hours, as he does, the school operates three days a week.
She said her absence was already affecting her sons as well, saying, âThey’re usually well-behaved kids, but they know what’s going on. They usually see it every day.
âThey yelled at each other, argued, and I know where it’s all coming from. All I can do is call their dad on the phone.
The 29-year-old added: “I can’t even say how it’s going to be if he goes. They’ve had such a good routine seeing him regularly. He goes to school three days a week and they go back. to his. He takes them to football training. He’s an amazing father, what am I supposed to do? “
Nicole, Mr Finlay’s girlfriend, said the prospect of her partner being taken away was “heartbreaking” and “would tear” apart the close bond he has with their daughter and five-year-old son.
âMy baby was just starting to speak when he left. She will continually say “Dad”. She has random crying spells. He had never spent a night away from her since she was born, âshe said.
âHe also has a great influence on my son. There are a lot of things I can’t teach him because I’m not a man. He doesn’t understand why he’s not home.
âThat it would be taken away from them is unimaginable. They’re not just punishing Akeem, we’re all going to be affected. But the government is not looking at the ripple effect it will have on everyone.
Nicole said that since Mr Finlay was detained she has had to take time off work to care for their daughter and her dismissal would mean she would have to quit her job entirely and be dependent on benefits.
âHaving a mom and a dad is a big thing. To divide it does not make sense. You would surely want the children to have that stability so that they can avoid making the mistake he made and stay on track, âshe added.
Karen Doyle of the Justice Movement said The independent that some of the black men currently facing deportation had themselves been deported by a parent as children.
âEntire generations of children are left without parents because the state says ‘Who cares?’ This leads to a cycle that can repeat itself; it is against human rights, it is unacceptable and it is state sanctioned harm to children on a massive scale, âshe said.
Immigration law says a parent can be deported and the state will tolerate the consequences for children as long as they are not “unduly harsh.”
“So there could be serious consequences for the child, as long as he is [not] âUndulyâ which says it all, really, âsaid Annie Campbell Viswanathan, director of Bail for Immigration Detainees.
She added: “You can see a situation 25 years from now where the consequences of these policies become apparent and these kids say, ‘Look what you’ve done to me, British state,’ and the state will say ‘We haven’t. not know at the time â.
âThe black community is besieged by the hostile environment of the Interior Ministry; if it’s not one thing, it’s quite another.
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said: âThe government is clear that foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes should have no doubts about our determination to deport them.
‘The length of time a person has lived in the UK, as well as the strength of their social, cultural and family ties, are factors taken into account in determining any Article 8 claim and whether there are any very compelling circumstances that meet the requirements of immigration rules. “