photo Mary Finch

photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Berkay Kartav, North London Socialist Party

Two years after the Windrush scandal, the Home Office has operated a charter flight to Jamaica forcibly deporting Jamaican-born British citizens. Tragically, this will tear many families apart.

Among those deported to Jamaica are people who moved to Britain as children. Even the courts balked at some of the deportations, granting around half a last-minute reprieve.

As well as lying about ending austerity, Johnson’s government is stepping up the hostile environment for black and Asian people and migrant workers. This is aimed at distracting from the real causes of the problems all workers face in austerity Britain – the capitalist exploiters and their cuts politicians.

The government is misleadingly portraying these people as ‘foreign criminals’ in an attempt to justify their outrageous act. In fact, they were brought up here.

The Tories are also hiding the fact that most of these crimes were committed long ago, when they were young adults, for which they have already spent time in prison, and in many cases reformed. In fact, by deporting them, the Tories are punishing them twice for the same crime.

Rashawn Davis, who was eleven years old when he came to live in Britain, was due to be deported for two cases of robbery – eleven years ago.

These deportations are happening against the backdrop of the leaked draft of ‘Windrush Lessons Learned’, an independent report that suggests the government should stop deportations of all offenders who came to Britain as children. But far from ‘learning lessons’, the Tory government is propping up the hostile environment.

However, the Tories are not alone in passing racist laws. ‘New Labour’ under Tony Blair introduced legislation making it more difficult for people fleeing war to claim asylum – and in fact came up with the phrase “hostile environment.”

The deportations also pose the question: who sets and controls immigration policies? While many migrant workers are denied access to public services and face deportations, thieving millionaires and billionaires are permitted to buy property and skip citizenship queues.

Understandably, many have placed their hopes on legal challenges against the government. These are important. But we cannot rely solely on court rulings (or ‘independent’ reviews) to stop deportations, as the departure of the flight showed. These institutions ultimately defend the interests of the capitalist class against all sections of the working class.

Urgent action needs to be taken by trade unions to defend migrant workers and the whole working class. The RMT union, for example, has a proud record of blocking immigration inspectors’ access to its migrant members at work.

A united, working-class campaign for jobs, homes and services for all has the power to cut across Tory attempts to whip up racism. This should be combined with demands to replace the bosses’ racist immigration laws with democratic working-class control, to stop the bosses and their politicians pursuing their own class interests by dividing the working class.