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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 

Deporting the easy targets.

While John Reid does everything he possibly can to suck up to the tabloids by ranting at how useless his department is, those who are searching for the foreign prisoners who were ordered to be deported at the end of their sentences seem to be picking on those who weren't even more eagerly. Two cases of this have now come to light.

The first was that of Ernesto Leal, who two years ago was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for grevious bodily harm following a fight in a pub. He was a model prisoner, released after 18 months and met all his probation requirements. His family had fled to Britain after his father had been tortured by the Pinochet regime in Chile, and was given indefinite leave to remain here. On May the 1st he was arrested and taken to Belmarsh, the high security prison which notoriously holds some of the most dangerous prisoners in the United Kingdom, awaiting a deportation hearing. Both the Met and the Home Office have made numerous mistakes in the handling of his case, and while his MP Diane Abbot has now made representations to the immigration minister, his future still hangs in the balance. You can get the early day motion about Leal sent to your MP by visiting here.

The second is that of Saqib Almas, who similarly was jailed for petty crime a few years back and had served his time. Now two years later, police and immigration officers turned up on his doorstep at 8am, ready to kick his door in. While Leal had indefinite leave to remain, Almas has dual nationality - Pakistani as well as British. This has made either no difference, or indeed, may well have been the excuse to deport him. The police, according to his sister, claim that he has no ties here - despite his whole family having lived here since he was 18 months old. He's now being held at Harmondsworth detention centre, similarly waiting to be deported.

In the hysteria surrounding the foreign criminals fiasco, it seems that as the police can't seem to find the vast majority of the 778 subject to a deportation order, that they're picking up those that have committed minor crimes who they do know the whereabouts of, so that their deportation figures are as a result slightly improved. It doesn't seem to matter to those who are ordering these raids that they're wrecking the lives of those who have contributed to this society but who have in the past had problems with the law; as long as they're pleasing their political ministers by doing their "job", anything goes. It's a sad indictment of this government that it is more inclined to listen to tabloid hysteria than to judge each case on its merits.

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