2nd December 2020
There are many illiberal and misconceived things going on that a blog like this, which offers commentary and context on just one law and policy thing a day, cannot keep up.
But one especially brutal and unfortunate thing is to take place later today.
There is set to be a deportation flight from England to Jamaica, which will take place notwithstanding the ongoing covid pandemic and in the run-up to Christmas.
Those being deported are people with criminal convictions who have served their sentences but, because they are (in some cases only technically) foreign nationals, they are now to suffer this further sanction of the state.
The deportees include those with families and children in the United Kingdom – and so the Home Office are depriving children of parents and partners and other dependents of potential breadwinners.
The deportees include those who came to the United Kingdom as children and have no real connection with Jamaica.
One aspect of this deportation that is especially worrying and distasteful is the sheer glee that the current Home Secretary and it seems Home Office officials are taking in this exercise of sheer state power.
Excl: Jamaican nationals taken off charter flight in 11th hour over trafficking concerns— May Bulman (@maybulman) December 2, 2020
At least nine people have been granted last min reprieve. But many – including apparent modern slavery victims & fathers to British kids – still about to be deported https://t.co/cvuhDQCiY3
‘We make no apology…’ are the first four boastful words of the Home Office statement.
The Home Secretary herself is using this to make party political points.
There is no sense of ‘more in sorrow than…’ and that it is unfortunate but somehow must be done.
Instead, Home Office politicians and officials seem to be revelling in it, with the attitude of ‘look what we can do’.
They also appear to want as many legal interventions as possible, so that they can have the added bonus of pointing to meddlesome ‘activist’ lawyers.
The impression the affair gives is not one of reluctant necessity but that this is a propaganda stunt – and one which comprises detaining people, marching them in handcuffs, using coercive power to send them to countries that are not their homes, and inflicting damage to innocent children and families.
Again, during an emergency pandemic and in the run-up to Christmas.
The justification that the Home Office politicians and officials will give to themselves and others for this is that the criminals brought it upon themselves, and so the politicians and officials are absolved from any blame.
Yet this deflection is not convincing.
First, it is not justice to inflict double or disproportionate penalties – all because a crime has been committed, that does not mean ‘anything goes’ for the state in retaliation.
Second, this is an exercise of discretion by the Home Office – a deliberate choice, not an automatic process.
And so the Home Office is choosing to prioritise deportations above the very real effect of depriving families and partners – and remember, the families, dependents and partners have not committed any crime but they will suffer and be damaged anyway.
Third, it is notable that there seems to be no trumpeting by the home office of deportations to other commonwealth countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia – and this is perhaps for the obvious reason.
Fourth, the Home Office policy of the hostile environment and its treatment of Windrush families demonstrates that it is not well placed to make sensible decisions in respect of families from the Caribbean – and it would be wise for the Home Office to step back from such coercive moves as this deportation until it gets a wider policy grip.
And fifth, to the extent that those convicts who have been released from sentences remain ‘dangerous’ then the question must be why they have been released from prison.
This deportation is an ugly spectacle, and it is one which nobody involved can take pride.
And the fact that there will be those who nod and clap and cheer at this brutal exercise of sheer state power tells us more about our society than anything about the families that are about to be forcibly broken up, so that the Home Secretary can tweet her party political ‘owns’.
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