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Fightback against Tories' deportation regime needs to be proactive, emergency parliamentary meeting hears

A PROACTIVE co-ordinated fightback against the immigration system is needed rather than a reactive response to deportations, a lawyer told a parliamentary meeting last night.

About 100 people turned up to the emergency meeting in Portcullis House chaired by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.

The meeting was called after 17 people – out of a planned 50 – were deported to Jamaica on Tuesday.

Immigration solicitor Jacqueline Mckenzie said that the government had shown “belligerence” in believing Windrush communities “would not fight or resist” their “ideologically driven” immigration policies.

She called for the formation of a “real cohesive organisation, particularly in the black community” to bring down the “appalling” system of indefinite detention and deportation.

Many people don’t turn up to meetings until something happens and it’s too late, she added.

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts chair Zita Holbourne said: “We need to react but not just when a plane is going to leave.”

All speakers stressed the importance of solid legal advice to help people navigate the complex system without being duped by “dodgy” or incompetent legal firms.

Antonia Bright, of Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary, said that the numbers being deported each time are getting smaller due to successful legal action. “We need to see that number become zero,” she added.

During PMQs earlier the same day, PM Boris Johnson warned against “conflating” the Windrush generation with the people that they planned to deport to the Caribbean, saying that the latter were “foreign national offenders.”

Ms Mckenzie said that people – mainly young black men – who are deported or threatened with it are usually descendents of Commonwealth nationals who settled in Britain before 1973.

Chevon Brown was 23 when he was deported to Jamaica last February for a driving offence, Ms Mckenzie said in one example of how many people are deported after minor crimes and infractions.

He is now “living like a recluse in the hills of Jamaica,” she said.

Mr Johnson would “have let Tuesday’s flight to Jamaica fly empty just for the symbolism of it,” she said.

Detention Action director Bella Sankey said that many people on Tuesday’s charter flight had “clear and direct links to Windrush.”

Ms Abbott said there were reports of people living in limbo and destitution when they were deported to a country that no longer considered them to be a national of that country.

Only three out of the 17 people who were deported to Jamaica this week had relatives to meet them at the airport, she added.

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