Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Jamaica’s curious relationship with the UK

Published:Thursday | September 15, 2016 | 9:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

It is very unfortunate that the British government deported a number of Jamaicans, many of whom have been away so long, they have all but lost all contact with Jamaica, their country of origin. We should cease seeking political advantage from the misfortune of our fellow citizens who are deported from various countries but especially those 42 recently deported from the United Kingdom (UK).

We must face the reality that several of our fellow citizens are to be blamed for their refusal and/or failure to take steps to comply with legal requirements to become lawful residents or citizens in countries to which they migrated. Some of these citizens were in the United Kingdom for several years. During this time, they had opportunities to address their documents and their status in the country, but they refused to do so. It was not long ago that a gentleman, a Jamaican citizen, came to Jamaica and was not able to return to the UK because he had no documents to prove his right to be in that country, even though he was living there for almost half a century.

Part of the assistance that the Government gives to our citizens abroad should be encouragement for them to regularise themselves in the country they reside. Jamaica is being humiliated by the way our citizens are being treated, especially by Caribbean states, mainly Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

 

THE CARICOM PASSPORT

 

Another issue the Government needs to address is the Jamaican passport which is now named Caricom Passport. If I am likely to be kicked out of Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, which are Caricom countries, then I should not be compelled by my government to hold a Caricom passport. If a Caricom passport does not guarantee me entry into a Caricom country, then what on earth am I doing with a Caricom passport? I am now formally demanding that the Government cease issuing us with Caricom passports and let us revert to using a Jamaican passport.

Those who are condemning the UK for deporting Jamaicans must understand that the UK has the lawful authority to refuse entry of any foreigner seeking to enter their country. Similarly, they have the lawful authority to deport any alien who is unlawfully in their country.

On the other hand, Jamaica has a legal responsibility and a moral obligation to accept all Jamaican citizens sent back to Jamaica. The Government, therefore, could not refuse entry of the 42 Jamaicans who were deported from the UK. Let us therefore accept these realities and do not reduce the discussion to petty political arguments.

 

USED BY THE BRITISH

 

What we ought to focus on is the reality that Britain has always used Jamaicans and other citizens from former colonies when they need us and then throw us out of their country when they no longer need us. During World War II, thousands of Jamaicans went to Britain and fought the Nazis (the Germans) on behalf of Britain. Several of those Jamaicans lost their lives. After the war and Britain was short of labour, thousands of Jamaicans went to England and worked in various areas, thereby ensuring a speedy recovery after the devastation caused by World War II.

It was after Britain no longer needed us that the visa regime was brought in, and over the years, the visa regime was made more and more strict and it has now become more and more difficult for Jamaicans to even visit the UK.

The long-term solution to the challenges Jamaicans face in various countries from which we are deported is for us to make our country wealthy, successful, and attractive to our fellow Jamaicans. Several of us attempted to migrate to other countries to seek employment and better wages. There are also those migrating because of crime and lack of social structures.

Much as we have a multiplicity of problems facing us, we cannot condemn and kick out our fellow Jamaicans who are sent back here. Since we are obliged to accept them, the Government should put a policy in place to deal with the deportees when they arrive on our shores.

Linton P. Gordon

lpgordon@cwjamaica.com

Ocho Rios,

St Ann