Wed | Oct 17, 2018

'Epidemic' of deportation hits Jamaicans ... scores being sent home per month

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Joan Pinnock, the president of the Jamaican/American Bar Association, has described the continued deportation of Jamaicans from the United States (US) as an epidemic, charging that up to 80 persons are sent home monthly, some of whom are culturally detached for the country.

"It is an epidemic. It is a mess, and nobody is doing anything to stop it," the attorney-at-law said.

Last year, a total of 1,984 Jamaicans, 84 per cent of whom are males, were deported from a number of countries, including the US. Overstaying, illegal entry, and illegal re-entry were the main reasons for 45 per cent of the persons being deported.

The largest proportion of deported persons, 42 per cent, came from the US, followed by the United Kingdom (UK), with 14.6 per cent.

The Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica said that the majority of persons deported from the US and the UK was for criminal activity.

Pinnock, who is also a diaspora board member for the North East US, said many Jamaicans are being unfairly deported by the US government.

"It is too much. Every month they are sending people down, and ... the sad thing is that some of them have never been to Jamaica since they were one, or two, or three years old," she added.


Pinnock and Wayne Golding successfully joined forces to secure the return of two Jamaicans who were deported as children from Maryland, United States, 25 years ago.

Devon Cameron and his sister Donna returned on September 20 to the US as citizens.

"Both of them were card holders when they were deported, and their mother was a US citizen before their 18th birthday, which meant they were citizens," Pinnock said.

She said the siblings re-entered the US illegally and were twice deported. In the case of Devon, he was convicted for illegally re-entering the US and imprisoned for five years before being deported again.

Pinnock said she has been pressing to get a list of all the persons up for deportation monthly so she could examine their cases before they are put on a plane. This, she said, has been unsuccessful. She has now devised another plan.

"The minute they send them home, I am going to bring them back," Pinnock said.

"I have lawyers who will go, without a charge, sit with them in the jail so we can find out exactly what their situation is before they put them on the plane," she added.

The move to return the Camerons to the US follows an immigration symposium that was held at the sixth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference in Montego Bay earlier this year.

The symposium, organised by Pinnock and Golding, offered services to assist deportees in determining their eligibility to return to the US.

Dubbed the Immigration Assistance for Jamaica, it is a pro bono initiative designed to assist Jamaican deportees.