The Home Office has - helpfully - provided travel advice for those long-term British residents it's deporting to Jamaica, including "trying to be Jamaican" by "using local accents and dialects." Yes, this is real. https://t.co/iQQBdEyD7u pic.twitter.com/XbriC2L5to— Thomas Colson (@tpgcolson) April 16, 2018
A leaflet from the United Kingdom Home Office giving advice to immigrants facing deportation is being ridiculed this week for telling individuals to “try to be Jamaican.”
The guide, first printed in 2013 and then updated in 2015, was disseminated for individuals who were at risk of being deported, specifically those who were part of the Windrush generation of immigrants who came to the UK from the Caribbean without documentation to help fill a work shortage after World War II.
Those individuals were granted permanent status in the UK in 1971, but many didn’t receive documentation after that declaration, creating a conundrum for the government to keep track of who is or isn’t granted a permanent stay. Those protections were also rescinded in part in 2014.
The pamphlet distributed by the government lists some do’s and don’ts when it comes to how to prepare for deportation. Among the things individuals should do, the pamphlet suggests, “Try to be 'Jamaican' — use local accents and dialect” as a way to detract unwanted attention.
Many of the Windrush immigrants were children when they first arrived in the UK, and have developed more British accents than Jamaican ones.
The discovery of the pamphlet’s suggestions has ignited an uproar among pro-immigration groups and lawmakers. Labour Party Member of Parliament David Lammy lashed out against the printed advice.
“How exactly can someone pretend to ‘be Jamaican’ when they are British and have lived here all their lives?” he asked rhetorically.
Deported Windrush children and others told to "be Jamaican" and put on a Jamaican accent. What a hideous, despicable document, what a tragic indictment of the Home Office and hostile environments. Callous and hard to believe this was ever published. https://t.co/HAyvAfblzZ— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 17, 2018
Others were equally appalled.
"Try to be Jamaican"— Evolve Politics (@evolvepolitics) April 16, 2018
The Tories are telling Windrush immigrants to fake a Jamaican accent after they’ve been deported. Seriously.https://t.co/ONFZq85W9i
This is becoming surreal "Try to be Jamaican"?! Adopt a Jamaican accent!! https://t.co/aFfGP43Ab0— Andrew Neil (@afneil) April 16, 2018
No way did the Home Office really tell people to try to be ‘Jamaican’ if they get deported pic.twitter.com/2KmIrj7YyF— Mo Gilligan (@MoTheComedian) April 17, 2018
UK Government— James Felton (@JimMFelton) April 16, 2018
“You’re not British you’re Jamaican get out”
“I’m not tho—”
“WELL FUCKING PRETEND YOU’RE JAMAICIAN THEN, DO AN ACCENT FOR FFS”https://t.co/Zz4v1TCVtD pic.twitter.com/ByG4joqrTU
If, after living in the UK for half a century, you are deported "back" to Jamaica, HM Govt gives you a helpful little booklet telling you to fake a Jamaican accent if you don't have one.— Seamas It Ever Was (@shockproofbeats) April 16, 2018
The sort of generous, thoughtful gesture that puts a lump in your throat. pic.twitter.com/GTCTNqDPri
The parallels between the Windrush immigrants and their American counterparts, the Dreamers, is noticeably similar. Both came to their respective countries without much say in the matter, arriving with their parents and knowing no other nation as home except the one they emigrated to.
In both cases, empathy needs to be given toward those who call the UK and America home. Suggestions to residents of these nations who face being deported — including encouraging individuals to “act” like those they’ll soon be living among — are shortsighted, and miss the broader point: that these deportations are morally reprehensible.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Simon Dawson/Reuters