WEST Yorkshire’s politicians are divided over the Home Office’s controversial decision to schedule mass deportation by charter plane to Jamaica.

Ministers called for an urgent discussion on the matter in Parliament on Monday which could see up to 50 people, which includes young adults who have lived in the UK since childhood, deported.

Under the UK Borders Act someone can be deported if they were given a sentence of more than 12 months.

The Home Office has said that all of those on the flight have been selected on a case by case basis with Shipley MP Philip Davies adding that all those on the flight were foreign nationals found guilty of crimes.

The offences committed by the individuals on this flight include sexual assault against children, murder, rape, drug dealing and violent crime.

The Government had come under fire from campaigners who said the decision to arrange the flight was a repeat of the Windrush scandal.

Speaking on behalf of the Home Office, Chris Philp MP (Conservative, Croydon South) said: “Those are serious offences, which have a real and lasting impact on the victims and on our communities. This flight is about criminality, not nationality.

“Not a single individual on the flight is eligible for the Windrush scheme. They are all Jamaican citizens and no one on the flight was born in the United Kingdom. They are all foreign national offenders who between them have served 228 years plus a life sentence in prison.”

Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who is also shadow immigration minister, is one of those in the Labour party urging the Government to reassess the decision as well as councillor Richard Dunbar (Labour, Thornton) who wrote to the Secretary of State Priti Patel.

Writing to the Secretary of State, Cllr Dunbar expressed his “deep concern” and told how constituents, friends and campaigners had shared this feeling.

The Cllr has urged the Home Secretary to address concerns that the Home Office is “institutionally ignorant of racism”, offer race equality training and commit to teaching of Britain’s colonial past.

Cllr Dunbar said: “Put simply this proposed chartered flight and the ones that have gone before it are a product of a system that pushes racist immigration laws and policies that openly discriminate against people of colour and those not born in the UK.

“Many of the people on this proposed flight came to this country as children, have raised their families here and paid their taxes too. Britain is their home.

“The process of being detained and then deported is incredibly brutal and dehumanising. Detained in a cell, then with very little explanation you are transported to an airfield, all forms of communication with your family and legal representatives removed and then shackled to two security guards on a plane.

“There is also the very real concern of what could potentially happen to those British residents who could be deported to Jamaica. We know that between 2018-2019 that 5 UK deportees were killed. We shouldn’t also forget the trauma faced by those who experienced abuse or have had family members murdered.

“We also know that under Operation Nexus young black people who have been the victims of racial profiling are deported without ever being charged or going through the criminal justice system at all.

“This deportation cannot be viewed in isolation. It has been a tough and traumatic year for the black community. The death of George Floyd, ongoing battles against institutional racism and a reinvigorated Black Lives Matter movement mean a lot of energy has been spent. And now your department seeks to tear families apart just before Christmas.”

He added: “From speaking to friends and comrades in the black community I keep hearing the phrases ‘I am tired. We are tired’. I would ask that you listen to the stories of struggle, show some compassion and stop these flights immediately.”

The MP for Halifax weighed in during the debate with similar sentiments, adding: “Of course, we recognise that those who engage in violent and criminal acts must face justice.

“However, we also hear that at least one person on that flight has a Windrush generation grandfather; there is another whose great-aunt was on the HMT Windrush, and another whose grandfather fought in the second world war for Britain. It is clear that we have not yet established just how far the consequences of the Windrush injustice extend.”

Neighbouring MP Philip Davies criticised the Labour party for fighting for those on the flight to stay in the UK.

He said an “overwhelming majority” of his constituents in Shipley would “absolutely support” the chartered flight.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Davies said: “The overwhelming majority of my constituents would absolutely support what he [the Minister] is doing but would want him to ignore the siren voices opposite and actually make it easier to deport foreign nationals who commit offences, perhaps those who commit any offence at all not just those who have to serve over a year in prison.”

Home Office Minister Chris Philp said: “I am very grateful for the support emanating from the people of Shipley and I think the public will be astonished to see Labour MPs standing up on the side of dangerous criminals instead of standing up on the side of victims and also people who might be victims in the future.”