Tue | Jan 26, 2021

‘Death sentence’ - Arrested in front of children, J’can dreads UK deportation without known relatives

Published:Tuesday | December 1, 2020 | 12:13 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Jamaican high commissioner of the United Kingdom, Seth George Ramocan.
Jamaican high commissioner of the United Kingdom, Seth George Ramocan.

A 23-year-old man who is to be deported from the United Kingdom (UK) on Wednesday, December 2, having served time in prison for peddling ‘class A’ drugs, is accusing the Home Office of being “callous, wicked and uncaring” for arresting him in full view of his two infant sons.

Milton* was convicted in 2018 and received a four-year and one-month sentence and was released on April 30 after serving half his time, on the condition that he reports to the Home Office once per month.

But after being allowed back into the community, where he bonded with his children and is now planning for life after his reform, he was snatched away and the signs of the impact are being manifested in how his children are responding.

“They arrested me in front of my boys at 7 o’clock in the morning and it has caused their behaviour to change since that went down. I have been inside here for three weeks and four days now,” said Milton from a holding area in Birmingham.

Milton told The Gleaner that sending him back to Jamaica, where he has no memory of relatives, would be a “death sentence” for him.

An only child for his mother, he grew up not knowing his father.

He is among 50 people with criminal records to be deported and deemed “dangerous foreign criminals” by the Home Office.

On Sunday, The Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, reported that a deal had been quietly agreed between the Home Office and Jamaica for those who went to the UK as children not to be sent on a planned charter flight to the Caribbean island this week.

The Gleaner’s attempt to get a statement from government officials was unsuccessful.

Jamaican High Commissioner in London George Seth Ramocan told The Guardian that following diplomatic overtures to the Home Office, officials agreed not to deport Jamaicans who came to Britain under the age of 12.

Milton said all his relatives are in the UK and that the prospect of being sent to Jamaica without any known relative or help is stressing him.

“My mom has been my father as well. She left me with a male friend when she travelled to look for a better life in England. I was six years old when she left. Six years later, she sent for me when I was 12. She is all I know, man,” he said.

“The guy she left me with, I thought was her partner, but he was just a friend. She went to sort out her papers and to get my papers sorted out. So without her, who can I turn to?” he asked.

Milton said he was arrested at a time when things in his life were topsy-turvy and that like many other black young men in England, he was failed by the UK government after he was placed in a foster care programme.

“They offered me no help. That is why I turned out the way I turned out, and now I’m being punished further, and to make matters worse, my boys will now be without a father to guide them in this same system,” he said.

Milton said his arrest is having a debilitating effect on his family, stating that his children’s mother, who is two months pregnant with their third child, is not eating and has trouble sleeping.

“It has affected me as well, you know; because since I have been here, I have had these panic attacks every single night. I have developed anxiety issues and I am sorely depressed,” Milton stated.

“They have ripped me from my family, literally. They are saying that I am a danger to the public and I am at risk of reoffending, but they still let me out into the community to form relationships, to establish bonds with my kids, and then pull me away ... . That has mentally broken me.”

Milton said his right to remain – a legal document in the UK that gives immigrants mainly from Commonwealth countries legal standing – was revoked because of his conviction, but argues that because he arrived as a 12 -year-old, he should be exempted.

He said his solicitor has made a recommendation to the Home Office to try and stop him being sent to Jamaica, pending an expert report on child trafficking and exploitation, which they are pinpointing as being the reason why he was selling drugs.

The solicitor, meanwhile, has made known her intention to take the matter to the high court for redress, as the Home Office yesterday made it clear that such a report from the expert was not necessary.

The planned deportation has been met with strong objections, including from former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbin. However, yesterday, the parliamentary undersecretary of state for the Home Department, Chris Philp, said the flight is to remove foreign criminals and listed the offences committed as sexual assault against children, murder, rape, drug dealing and other violent crimes.

In a statement, Philp said the flight is about criminality and not nationality.

“Let me emphasise, it has nothing to do with the terrible wrongs faced by the Windrush generation,” he said, reiterating that the Windrush generation and the deportation flight are separate issues.

“They are all Jamaican citizens and no one on the flight was born in the UK,” he said.

He provided data that showed that in the year ending June 2020, there were some 5,208 enforced returns, of which 2,630, or just over half, were to European countries.

Jamaica, Philp said, accounted for only 33 out of 5,000 returned – less than one per cent.

The Opposition yesterday urged the Government not to accept the deportees from the UK amid the COVID-19 crisis.

*Name changed

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com