Deporting Black Britons: Review

Deporting Black Britons is much more than it first appears; exploring deportation of young men from the UK to Jamaica, it deals not only with immigration controls but policing, international relations and structural and historic racism in the UK and globally.  It is at once expansive and ambitious, as well as deeply personal and intimate.  By moving from global political structures in one breath to a little girl crying for her stepfather in the next, the narrative remains academically rich while ensuring that the reader never escapes the real life consequences of policy and history.  


According to de Noronha, deportation was an exceptional form of immigration control in Britain for almost all of the twentieth century.  He argues that its contemporary growth (according to gov.uk, 5,203 Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) were deported in the year ending June 2019) is due not to increased migration, but modern intensification of bordering.  In other words, deportation is used for its symbolic function: States are in control, and “citizens belong because, unlike unwanted ‘migrants’, they can’t be deported” (7).


The author begins with a detailed introduction in which he situates his arguments within the framework of the interplay between citizenship, racism, immigration control and policing.  He also outlines his position as researcher and the potential bias and power dynamics therein, as well as some justifications for the techniques he has chosen.  


The introduction is immediately followed by the life narratives of four young men who grew up in Britain and were deported to Jamaica, where the author meets them.  This format is refreshing; instead of analysing theories, putting forward ideas and shoe-horning in relevant examples, de Noronha meets real life head-on.  The reader is asked to begin by understanding the people affected on their own terms.  This not only lends the book a sense of authenticity, it allows it to act as an example of how good research could and should be done.  The ‘subjects’ speak for themselves, articulating the problem in their own words, offering context and insight.  This technique is not only ethically sound, it also lends weight to the author’s subsequent reflections and analysis.