Author : Amelia Gentleman
For the past five weeks, Ivan Anglin has been waiting at his home in Mandeville, central Jamaica, for a letter from the British high commission in Kingston telling him whether or not he can return to England to see his daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Anglin, 82, was deported from the UK in 1998 after returning from his sister’s funeral in Jamaica. He was unable to persuade immigration officials at Heathrow that he had permanent right of abode in England and was given 48 hours to tie up 35 years of life in the UK and return to the airport. He only had time to say goodbye to one of his daughters.
He only told a couple of close friends and family members in Jamaica that he had been deported. The stigma of deportation is so powerful that he judged it better to let people believe he had returned voluntarily.
But he is hoping that an application to the Windrush taskforce will be successful, allowing him to visit England again. He was interviewed by six British high commission officials on 18 July and was told that a response would be couriered to his home within a matter of days. He feels he cannot leave the house in case he misses a delivery. “I can’t go far. If I go to the market, I come back quickly.”
Born in 1936 when Jamaica was still a British colony, Anglin had an English education, sitting exams set by Cambridge examination board. At his school, pupils would sing God Save the King and later God Save the Queen and occasionally Rule, Britannia!, with the (peculiar to him from an adult perspective) line, “Britons never will be slaves.” “We had to sing all these patriotic songs. We had no choice, you just do as you are told by the teacher. We were taught England was the mother country; we didn’t know what that meant.”
During the second world war, his teacher asked all the children at the small rural school, which had no electricity and no running water, to ask their parents for money for the British war effort. “So that we could send contributions to England to buy bomber planes for a squadron. My parents didn’t have much money. My mother was a dressmaker, my father was a carpenter. I think I gave my teacher two shillings.”
His older sister left to become a dressmaker in Brixton and wrote a letter to him, suggesting that he come to join her. Anglin visited the governor’s office to get a British passport, bought two pairs of sturdy shoes, packed one pair in his small suitcase, and wore the other pair to take a flight onboard a Douglas DC-8 to London on 2 January, 1962. His sister met him at the airport carrying a black overcoat, to help him cope with the cold. “Snow was heaped up in streets. I had never felt cold before. You started trembling, marking time with your feet to get the circulation going.”
In the many apologies issued by the government to those caught up in the Windrush scandal, there have been repeated acknowledgements that Caribbean migrants performed a vital role in helping to rebuild Britain after the war. As a carpenter, Anglin played a vital role in that process.
“We were working on bombsites, building houses. I didn’t have trouble getting jobs. That’s why they took Caribbean workers,” he said. For a long time he worked for the London borough of Newham. “I helped to build council flats, 33-floor-high tower blocks, those sort of buildings. When one is finished, there would be another block. We used to put in doorways, and the windows.”
He felt the tension of simmering racist hostility from the moment he arrived. “When you’re look for jobs, and they see you walking along, sometimes they would say: sorry mate, no blacks allowed. When you go to seek an apartment, some people tell you that they don’t want coloured people. It was quite common. You feel dejected. I didn’t know anything about racism when I was in Jamaica.”
For a while he worked at Ford in Dagenham, on the production line, putting car doors on. He remembers a National Front contingent among fellow workers. “They would say: you come here and take our jobs. Some would tell you straight out what they thought, which was good, so you know where to put your foot, you know to get out of their way.”
But mostly life was happy. He bought a house in Ilford, and brought up four girls and a son. Later he got a job he loved as a barman at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire.
Because he travelled with a British passport before Jamaica became independent, Anglin assumed he was British. His wife came to join him a year later, after Jamaican independence in August 1962, and when there was a government campaign to encourage Caribbean-born migrants to register for British citizenship in the 1980s, she formally naturalised.
“I considered myself British. When I left here to go to England, you didn’t need permission. My wife got her citizenship. I didn’t bother with the citizenship because I was British,” he said, with an unhappy laugh. He acknowledges that he was probably unduly relaxed about his immigration status.
When his British passport expired, he didn’t see the need to renew it. “I was working at Ford, no one asked me for it.” In the late 1970s he was renovating the family home, and using a blowtorch to remove paint from the gutters. “I didn’t realise there was a bird’s nest up there.” It caught fire, setting the roof alight. There was more damage done when the fire brigade flooded the house to put out the fire. Anglin’s British passport got drenched, the pages were stuck together. Since it had expired already, “I just dumped it.”
In the 1990s, he travelled back to Jamaica twice. He had to go back at short notice for his mother’s funeral and applied for a Jamaican passport, because he thought that would be quicker than getting a new British passport. Life became complicated when his marriage in the UK broke down, so he stayed for two years in Jamaica. “I wanted a break from Britain.” The first time he was able to return without any problems; the second time, after visiting Jamaica again for his sister’s funeral, he was stopped at Heathrow. “They thought I was just a Jamaican trying to come to Britain,” he said.
He didn’t try to tell them that he considered himself British. “You can’t argue with the authorities. The decision was that I cannot stay any longer in the country, and that I should go home to Jamaica. I didn’t give them any trouble. I was like a lamb to the slaughter. I did what they told me to do.”
Anglin was deported under a Labour government. Although most of the difficulties connected with losing jobs, flats and access to healthcare experienced by Windrush-generation people in the UK have happened as a result of the introduction of hostile environment policies by Theresa May in 2012, wrongful deportations and refusals of re-entry have been happening for much longer.
In his most recent update on the government’s handling of the Windrush debacle, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, pointed out that many of the deportations or refusals to allow people to return to the UK happened under previous Labour administrations. He rebuked the Tottenham MP, David Lammy, on Twitter for his criticism of the Home Office, stating: “Let’s not play party political games. Far too important. Around half of the 164 [deported or imprisoned] were under Labour.”
Anglin’s daughter Patricia said the impact of the deportation on his children has been profound, and has effectively left her without a father for 20 years. “We could not understand why our dad was being deported from England after living, working and raising children here for over 35 years, paying taxes and National Insurance.
“Dad is a very proud man, so when he was initially given the 48-hour notice he didn’t tell his family or ask for our help. I think he felt very traumatised and upset about the whole situation and didn’t want to put such strain and worry on us.”
After he left, his children tried to work out how to help him. They consulted immigration lawyers who quoted a lot of money that they did not have. For a while, it was hard to remain in touch with him because of the cost of calling Jamaica.
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/02/i-was-like-a-lamb-to-the-slaughter-deported-after-35-years-uk-windrush