Sun | Feb 17, 2019

‘We’re not dogs!’ - Deported mom of five blasts Gov’t for abandoning emigrants

Published:Thursday | February 7, 2019 | 12:18 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Pam (left), a 55-year-old deportee from the United Kingdom, hugs an unnamed friend after leaving the Harman Barracks detention centre on Wednesday, February 6. She was the sole woman among a group of 29 deportees.

Fifty-five-year-old Pam (last name withheld), the lone female among 29 deported migrants who were processed at Harman Barracks after being sent from the United Kingdom on a charter flight to Kingston yesterday, has castigated the Jamaican Government for failing to protect the rights of emigrants.

“The Jamaican authorities don’t really care about us when we are in another country like Britain. They don’t fight for our rights. They feel once we are tagged as criminals, rightfully so in some cases, we must be treated like dogs. We are human beings and Jamaican first,” she said.

Speaking to The Gleaner after walking through the gates to embrace a long-time family friend, who waited more than four hours to see her, she said that having lived in England for 25 years, and being a single mother of five grown children, she had to resort to doing whatever she could to care for her family.

“Even if you committed a minor crime, and you’ve been there like the whole of your adult life, they show you no mercy. You are just taken away like a piece of meat, and our Government here sides with them. Was there a payment for us, or what?” asked Pam.

She said that the murder of one of her sons placed her on the British Home Office radar and that attempts at becoming regularised were turned down.

“I left my kids and grandkids at home. They just came in and took me out the house with the kids there looking on. They are left traumatised because of this madness. I don’t know what will come of them now,” she said.

Pam, who declined to disclose the offence for which she was prosecuted, explained that she was taken to a detention centre at 1 a.m. on Wednesday at a remote location before being transferred to a hangar where they boarded a plane for Jamaica.

“My application to stay has not been touched. I was refused, but it is still in the Home Office. I really don’t know how the children will manage there without me,” she lamented.

The Titan Airways charter flight with the 29 confirmed “serious foreign criminals” on board touched down at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, after which they were taken under police guard to the processing centre at Harman Barracks.

The criminal convictions of those deported include:

• 4 convicted of a sex offence, including rape

• 6 convicted of violent crime, including grievous bodily harm

• 1 convicted of murder

• 1 convicted of attempted murder.

• 14 convicted of drug offences, including supplying Class A drugs.

• 1 convicted of robbery

• 3 convicted of firearm and weapons offences

• 1 convicted of dangerous driving.

None of the 29 were from the Windrush Generation, those Caribbean nationals who emigrated to the UK from the 1940s to 1970s.

Seven, including a Birmingham father of five, gained a last-minute reprieve, according to British news agencies.

Oswald Dawkins, president of the National Organisation of Deported Migrants, said that his organisation continues to offer support.

“We offer those who have nowhere to go a little stipend when we can, and, of course, a place to put their heads. But it’s a very tough thing coming here without family support,” Dawkins said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com