By Dr Masimba Mavaza
Every nation makes a political statement about the foreigners in their country. The feeling against foreigners dates back to the beginning of time and humanity.
Millions of pounds is invested in the business of removing foreigners who have overstayed their welcome. For some strange reason many politicians blame the foreigners for any failure in their administration.
Despite millions of pounds dedicated to the Home Office the UK has made slower progress than expected in managing foreign national offenders, despite increased resources and tougher powers.
“It is no easy matter to manage foreign national offenders in the UK and to deport those who have completed their sentences. However, too little progress has been made, despite the increased resources and effort devoted to this problem.
“The Government’s focus on preventative measures and early action is promising, but it has only just started to exploit these options. It needs to build on the momentum of its recent action plan, in particular taking advantage of relatively inexpensive and straightforward opportunities to make progress.”
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office” Deportation, as a form of expulsion regulating human mobility is a practice of state power that reinforces its own sovereignty, renovating concepts such as ‘citizens’ and ‘aliens’ that establish the boundary between those who are included and those excluded, attributing certain benefits to the former that are denied to the latter. While an examination of practices of deportation is thus located at the intersection of several oppositions – such as citizen/foreigner, home/ away, mobility/emplacement, inclusion/exclusion and deserving/un- deserving – these are uneasy binaries, constantly challenged and re- shaped by different actors.
We must always remember that deportation is the enforced removal of non nationals who have breached immigration rules, whether because they are in that country illegally or because they are ‘over stayers’.
Now coming to the UK Removal from the UK is when the Secretary of State issues a Removal Notice to an individual informing them that they are required to leave the UK. This means any person who is subject of a deportation order has been sufficiently informed and is most probably aware that his removal from the UK is imminent.
So the outcry by some corners of society blaming the Home office and the Zimbabwean government of bundling people in a plane and dump them in Zimbabwe is a figment of their imagination. There is more to deportation the life lived and ended in one flight is a nightmare one will never wake from.
The good of being in a democratic space is that you have a freedom of speech even if the speech is full of nothing. However there is always no freedom after speech.
However the first bunch of Zimbabweans who were removed in July arrived home to a less informed journalist. Rueben Barwe who is a very senior journalist on the land made the arrival of the deportees a joke. He joked and laughed at their return and their language which made the nation to look at them with scorn.
What we must realise is that the deportation of foreign nationals is pushed by a great domestic politics. In the United Kingdom the general public rates the success of any government by the number of foreigners they remove from the UK. Immigration becomes a deciding issue in the UK’s political space.
“The National Audit Office highlights the fact that the number of FNOs (Foreign national Offenders)in prison and the number deported from the UK have remained broadly unchanged since 2006.
Over that period, the number of foreign nationals in prison in the UK increased slightly (by 4%) from 10,231 to 10,649, despite a tenfold increase in the number of the Department’s staff working on FNO casework. After an initial surge in the number removed from 2,856 in 2006-07 to 5,613 in 2008-09 (following the problems in 2006 when the Department found that 1,013 FNOs had been released without being considered for deportation), removal numbers have declined to 5,097 in 2013-14. “ this changed in 2017 where the government was now able to remove the Foreign National offenders in large numbers.
The government would hire a plane which would carry offenders from the Sourthen Africa and drop them in their respective countries. This has made people in The UK to trust their government.
So the larger part of these deportations is aimed at gaining trust. The majority of people are now satisfied that their government in under control of the foreigners.
The civic groups and pressure groups in the UK are now satisfied with the way the government is dealing with foreigners.
In fact these deportations we see now are the political campaigns and the Zimbabwean government has nothing to do with these deportations. The politics played elsewhere I’d s being danced Else where.
Today’s reports recognises that the barriers to removal are considerable; “include FNOs exploiting legal and medical obstacles to removal. However, the spending watchdog identifies measures and opportunities for making progress which are not being maximized.”
The thrust in these removals to Zimbabwe is to save money and secure and maintain trust of the UK majority. The deportations are political and do not reflect our foreign policy.
The British argue that removal schemes also save money. They estimate that the 37% of those who left as part of the Early Removal Scheme in 2013-14 saved £27.5 million, by reducing the average number of days spent in prison by 146.
The Department and Ministry of Justice do not use cost data to manage FNOs. The NAO estimates that, in 2013-14, public bodies spent £850 million on managing and removing FNOs – around £70,000 per FNO.
Current reliance on criminal justice and punitive rhetoric about the dangers embodied in foreign citizens is used in policy to secure the border, both in the UK and elsewhere. The increasing tendency towards governance through criminal law is prevalent in the management of migration through the practices of detention, bail, reporting and deportation, which not only allows for the close monitoring of foreign nationals but also reinforces the notion that the public needs protection from them.
The policing and criminalisation of foreign na- tionals thus sends the message that foreigners pose a risk to society. Harsh immigration policies may be a symbol of strength, but one indicative of an actual weakness in authority and inadequate controls – it is indicative of government’s inability to control the border.
But while policy is developed and applied, it may not be carried through to the end. There is an ‘increasing inability of states to conduct the kind of mass deportation campaigns they claim to aim for. For one thing, there is often a lack of cooperation from receiving states, which refuse to provide travel documents to deportable migrants.
This is a hurdle Zimbabwe has overturned by willing to provide travel documents and going further to receive their nationals who are criminals. There are legal and human rights constraints and, through immigration appeals, deportation and removal can be delayed for long periods of time. Most foreign nationals for instance, have been appealing their deportation for over two years.
The non-deportability of some foreign nationals leaves them in a legal limbo where they are not included in the host society even if they are physically present as they are prevented from actively participating in it.
Most Zimbabweans who have been deported are happier that they have left the UK.
Not being able to work or actively plan their future and carry on with their lives, their existence in the UK is effectively interrupted even if they are still in the country. They are not even allowed to rent a room own a car or even open a bank account.
But while the decision to exclude migrants is reduced to that particular moment of their lives, when deciding on deportation appeals, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) does bear in mind the ‘circumstances, conduct, experiences, or relationships that tell a different story about the individual.
That their lives were now dominated by that one moment in time when they were convicted was in fact all too present in their lives. They had become labelled as offenders, which, coupled with being foreigners, not only subjected them to deportation and state surveillance but also prevented them from openly re- sisting and protesting for their rights.
It is true that most deportees are being punished twice they were incarcerated and served their sentences after which they are deported. This is the dark side of deportations and the reason why they crying foul.
Double punishment in these circumstances has been equated to ‘double jeopardy’in the sense that it ‘violates human rights norms of non-discrimination and presumptions of equality of treatment before the law’ and ‘negates the historical and psychological reality of third country nationals. Here again, lived concepts of citizenship and justice are at play, and stand in opposition to legal and institutionalised ones.
In illegality studies, de- portability is constructed as inherently tied to illegality. Deportability is a means of guaranteeing a vulnerable and cheap pool of ‘disposable’ labour were ‘some are deported in order that most may remain (undeported) – as workers, whose pronounced and protracted legal vulnerability may thus be sustained indefinitely.
To a larger extend the violation of moral norms is an offence conducive to deportation, a vague term that has the potential for arbitrary use, and hence leaves immigrants in a constant state of fear that is exploited by their employers and the police. This has led to spouses who are nationals to create fictitious charges against their spouses in order to have them deported.
In most cases deportees were experiencing their deportability only after deportation action was taken against them, as prior to criminal conviction most had been living legally in the UK for a number of years. Most did not have the memory of living in fear of being caught by immigration officials prior to their first time in detention.
Their deportability is nevertheless an embodied experience: one expressed not in relation to ‘being caught’ but in appealing at the AIT and performing a good case, in complying with state orders and enduring uncertainty.
The relentless experience of living with the daily threat of physical removal’ and the aggressiveness of court hearings where it is decided whether or not one is desirable to the UK is the most embarrassing knee shaking experience ever to be experienced by any human being.
Every deportee you see arriving in Zimbabwe has a story of how that experience affected her life, the uncertainty of waiting, the difficulty of making basic decisions and what is called the ‘imposition of false guilt’ feeling responsible for what your family and close friends are going through on account of your imminent deportation.
In many ways,bdeportation narrative mirrors those of other foreign nationals facing deportation from the UK. Their narratives, as highlight how the interruption of their existence in the UK is effected long before their actual removal from the territory. It is a process developing from the embodiment of their deportability as their present and future lives become suspended by the threat of ex- pulsion from their residence of choice.
There is more than politics behind each and every deportation. There is life emotions invested then wasted time. The politics of deportation is beyond the changani bags. Every person who walks the tar mark carries a lot and needs the support of each of us.
Despite their political beliefs the politics of deportation is covered in total discrimination and veiled in racism.