The good news is that reform is not rocket science. We need only turn the clock back a few years. The law wasn’t always like thisby Colin Yeo / February 11, 2020 / Leave a comment
Last night a deportation flight took off for Jamaica, despite the protests of MPs and a last-minute injunction that saw some removed from the plane. Many of the Jamaican citizens involved grew up in the UK—such as Reshawn Davis, who has been here since the age of 11 and has a baby daughter in this country.
Campaigners are outraged that this mass exile to the Caribbean has taken place before publication of an official report into the Windrush scandal. A leaked draft of the Windrush “lessons learned” review calls on ministers to “consider ending all deportation of foreign national offenders where they arrived in the UK as children.”
The Windrush factor has focused public attention on what is, to immigration lawyers like me, a common phenomenon. The law on deportation for criminal offending regularly sees people who have lived in the UK all their lives—who may even have been born here—exiled to countries they do not know. And as more and more home-grown offenders lacking UK citizenship are packed off to the countries of their ancestry, social problems have become a great British export.
The good news is that reform is not rocket science. We need only turn the clock back a few years. The law wasn’t always like this.
“Deportation” means the exclusion of a foreign national from the United Kingdom. Not only is the person physically removed but he or she is also banned from returning. It is a legal power that is usually used against foreign criminals, and is distinct from mere “removal,” where a person who does not have permission to stay in the UK is physically removed but can sometimes apply to come back again.
Deportation law was until 2006 fairly flexible. It gave huge discretion to the home secretary and it was generally serious criminals with weak connections to the UK who were deported. That changed for short-term political reasons.
On 25th April 2006, then home secretary Charles Clarke publicly admitted that the Home Office had failed to consider the deportation of over 1,000 foreign criminals who were coming to the end of their sentences; that some had re-offended after their release; and that the Home Office had lost track of most of those released. Even very serious criminals who had committed awful crimes…