Boris Johnson’s plan to deport as many as 50 people to Jamaica next Tuesday has sparked mass outrage.
Hundreds of people blocked the road by Downing Street in central London on Thursday night. They defied the police and caused traffic chaos, chanting, “Shame, shame”, and, “No charter flights”.
One protester, Courtney, slammed the Tories’ renewed deportations as an “abuse of power”. “We should be taking to the streets, we should be obstructing,” he told Socialist Worker.
“If people are prepared to make the sacrifice, they will have to stop it.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott joined the protest, organised by Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (Barac) and Lawyers for Windrush. She said, “The hostile environment was a thing before it appeared on the front page of the Guardian.
“We know what was happening to our people. But when it was on the front page of a national newspaper, the wider community was shocked, embarrassed, outraged and ashamed.
“We can’t let them stop feeling outraged about the hostile environment because it has not gone away.”
The planned deportation is one of the first “charter flights” to Jamaica since the Windrush scandal of 2017.
Hundreds of migrants who came from Britain’s former Caribbean colonies after 1945 and their descendants faced the threat of deportation or loss of livelihood. This was a direct result of the Tories’ Immigration Act 2014 and the “hostile environment”, which forced landlords and public sector bodies to check people’s immigration status.
Many people who had lived in Britain for decades found they didn’t have the needed immigration documents.
Another protester, Ezingha, said Johnson wants to show that “the government is taking a line” over immigration. “They say they want to take back our country,” she told Socialist Worker.
“But how many countries and their resources did they take? African people’s labour built this country.”
An outpouring of anger forced the Tories to grant an amnesty to people who had come to Britain between 1945 and 1973. This still leaves many more people facing the possibility of deportation—and Johnson feels emboldened to go on the offensive against migrants after his election victory.
Johnson tried to justify the charter flight by claiming that the people on it are “serious criminals”.
Labour shadow immigration minister Bell Ribeiro-Addy attacked it, saying, “Young black men are likely to receive harsher sentences.”
There should be no deportations—whether people have been convicted or crimes or not,
Anti-racists must fight to stop deportation flights and dismantle Britain’s racist immigration system.