A 24-year-old man, arrived in the UK on 27 May after crossing in a small boat from Calais. He then claimed asylum and was subsequently placed in a hotel in Birmingham which is being used to house asylum seekers during the lockdown. He spent two months in the hotel, during which he said he felt “safe” and “human” again. On 30 July, 2020 he was placed into asylum dispersal accommodation in Coventry, but early the following morning the house was raided by immigration enforcement officers and he was taken to Brook House removal centre.
“I felt so scared. Everything I’ve worked so hard to reach is being demolished. I’m destroyed. I’m unable to eat or drink. I feel that there’s no meaning to my life,” he said.
Legally speaking deportation is the enforced removal of someone "for the public good" usually after serving a criminal sentence in the UK or any other country.(righttoremain.org.uk). However, in relation to migrants in the UK,it means the removal of someone when they have no leave to remain in the UK, which could be as result of a rejection of one's application for leave to remain, a refusal to renew one's expired leave if they did apply for renewal. There are several real reasons and examples that may lead to one being caught up with the risk of deportation and I will try to highlight by examples but names changed to protect the identities of the people involved. I will equally express my concern about the weaponisation,by the Home Office, of this beneficial process to the public and to the deportee or deported.
"Deportation is the removal of an alien out of the country, simply because his presence is deemed inconsistent with the public welfare and without any punishment being imposed or contemplated either under the laws of the country out of which he is sent or those of the country to which he is taken." Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 697, at 709 (1893). By the foregoing ruling, it is clear that being subject to deportation on its own is not a criminal offence, except when one is being deported as a result of criminality or having served out a criminal sentence. The crux of the problem of the deportation and threat it in the UK is the Home Office's attempts to criminalise migrants who are subject to deportation. Migrants especially asylum-seekers and refugees have a lot to deal with in terms of the deprivation they face, mental health issues and the stagnation of their life process and prospects. The press and the UK media rather than unpack the root causes of social inequalities, injustices, racism, white privileges and depression bedevilling the system have succeeded in creating a narrative to the majority that migrants " illegal immigrants" are the single most important cause of all the economic problems in the UK. They sell the narrative that once "illegal migration" is stopped the UK with bounce back to "glory days". Unfortunately, this oversimplification of the causes of the economic hardships and increased criminality was so potent that it led to Brexit with its complications and confusions.The average British believes that "illegal migrants" are here to take their jobs and/or drain the benefits system, despite the fact that several surveys and studies have proved otherwise an example of which is the quote on 15 May 2017 by UK's Full Fact Organisation:" In the medium to long run, immigration can be expected to lead to more investments."
There are many reasons that may lead to one being at risk of deportation ranging from domestic abuse,domestic violence,level of education, mental health and myriads of others. I will attempt to explain this with Chidi's story. Chidi arrived in the UK in 2009 on a 30 months spousal visa sponsored then by his now estranged partner. Shortly, before the expiration of his visa the relationship went sour, his partner wrote to the Home Office to cancel his visa as they were no longer living together. As a result, he had a mental health breakdown,was made homeless because he was not entitled to any benefits, and because he did not understand much of English language,could not afford to pay for a renewal of his visa or know how to go about the renewal without money. He was contacted severally by the Home Office to go back to "where he came from". It took him about 24 months to get to the right direction of reapplying via the 10 years parental route as he was no longer in a subsisting relationship with his ex-wife, he could not get all the documents required because his ex-wife was not cooperative, the application is lingering because he has to use the Family Court to enforce his ex-wife to send some pertinent documents for his application. Chidi came to the UK on a 5 year spousal route, lived in the UK for about 5 years to restart another 10 year route as a parent, the 5 years he had lived lost and gone down the drain. This is the story of many people at risk of deportation in the UK.Another person Abdul was an asylum-seeker who was deported to a wrong country in Africa but was rejected by the country, he was returned to the UK via the charter flight that took him there,was left on the streets of the UK by the accompanying officials with no advice on steps to follow to regularise his stay. He spoke little to no English, it took him more than 1 year to get to the right direction and he is still in the process of regularisation of his documentation.
Deportation on its own is a veritable tool beneficial to the deportee or deported if used judiciously. Asylum applications should be treated with dispatch so that unsuccessful applicants could know their fate in time to enable them decide on steps to take going forward. This practice of protraction and delay of applications only add to the problems of the applicant and creates more workload for the Home Office. Asylum-seekers and refugees fleeing persecution for fear of death should be protected and each case looked at on its merit as soon as possible to arrive at a reasonable conclusion and decision. People should not be deported back to their countries of persecution because right to life is a natural right that should be guaranteed and the weaponisation of deportation does more harm than good.
by Chuks Sam Ogbunubi