A 63-year-old woman has been told she has been booked on an immigration removal flight to Jamaica, as the government scrambles to minimise the damage over the scandal of the removal of citizenship rights from Windrush migrants.
The woman, who is currently being held at the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, was handed papers on Friday telling her she had no basis to remain in the country and she was to be removed on a specially chartered flight to Jamaica[.
She was told she would be removed after five working days from the date of service of the letter, suggesting that the flight could depart any time after Thursday.
Movement for Justice, an immigrants’ rights group, informed the Guardian of the woman’s case. It has organised an emergency demonstration outside the Home Office and the Jamaican high commission on Tuesday.
Immigration removal generally charters flights for up to 50 people who have been either held in immigration detention or swept up as they come for their regular sign-ins at immigration centres.
A second woman, Yvonne Williams, who was previously told she would be removed to Jamaica, was freed from Yarl’s Wood on Friday after eight months in detention. She had not been given a date for her removal in her letter, which had said “it may be by way of a scheduled or charter flight”.
Jamaica was a major source of migrants invited to live and work in the UK after the second world war until the early 1970s, known as the Windrush generation after the vessel that brought the first arrivals. The prospect of an immigration removal flight to the country in the midst of a major scandal surrounding the citizenship rights of those migrants and their children could be damaging for the government.
It is not known whether any Windrush migrants were booked on the flight.
A Home Office spokesman said the department did not comment on charter flights for operational reasons. It was not clear whether the flight was going ahead, but by Saturday afternoon the 63-year-old woman had not been told it had been cancelled.
Karen Doyle, an activist with Movement for Justice, was travelling to Yarl’s Wood to meet her on Saturday. She said: “My instinct is that this latest situation was possibly an administrative error, something that was organised months back.”
The Jamaican high commission had told her no charter flights were planned, she said. “It makes me think it was an automatically generated thing that has been planned for some time without political oversight,” she said.
David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, tweeted:
Lammy last month signed a letter to the Guardian in support of anti-deportation activists who were due to go on trial on terrorism charges for blocking the takeoff of an immigration removal flight from Stansted in Essex.
That trial was postponed until later in the year.