Activism

Campaigners fight to remove final passengers from Jamaica deportation flight

More than a dozen people are understood to have been removed from the flight, which is set to leave on Wednesday.

Protesters outside the Jamaican High Commission on May 11

More than a dozen people are understood to have been removed from a deportation flight to Jamaica on Wednesday, with campaigners’ fight to remove remaining passengers set to go to the wire.

Of 24 detainees in touch with campaign group Movement for Justice, 15 have had their removals deferred after legal challenges, with nine still having active removal directions.

The last deportation flight to Jamaica, in November, left with just four passengers – despite around 50 people originally being detained.

Figures obtained by The Big Issue revealed that one in six of the Home Office’s deportation charter flights in 2021 left with fewer than 10 passengers.

Karen Doyle, an organiser with Movement for Justice, said she expected the number of people taken off Wednesday’s flight to increase in the hours before take-off.

“These mass deportation flights are fundamentally unjust, they devastate families & terrorise communities,” Doyle told The Big Issue.

“Movement for Justice will continue to organise with the detainees and their families to ensure as many as possible come off this flight and every charter flight.”

A number of activists held a protest outside Brook House immigration removal centre, in Gatwick, on Monday evening.

Organised by SOAS Detainee Support, the protesters called for an end to deportations.

The Home Office pursues a policy, under the UK Borders Act 2007, of deporting any non-British citizen who serves 12 months of more in prison.

A number of those detained for this week’s flight came to the UK as children, including one, who arrived as a seven-year-old and told The Big Issue last week: “I don’t even know what Jamaica looks like.”

The Big Issue understands he has since been removed from the flight.

After November’s flight, home secretary Priti Patel said it was “absolutely galling” that “last-minute legal claims” had stopped the deportations of 33 people.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Those with no right to be in the UK, including foreign national offenders, should be in no doubt that we will do whatever is necessary to remove them. This is what the public rightly expects and why we regularly operate flights to different countries.

“The New Plan for Immigration will fix the broken immigration system and stop the abuse we are seeing by expediting the removal of those who have no right to be here.”

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