Canadian filmmaker Suds Sutherland’s unsettling anthology Home Again raises the pressing issue of deportation, the practice of sending criminals back to their homelands with no recourse. Sutherland follows three deportees sent back to Jamaica, a Canadian woman ripped from her children, a New Yorker forced to renew his criminal ways because no one will hire a deportee and an English student with no survival skills. What they face in Jamaica is an uncaring, violent and hopeless world, in which they are segregated and abused. Sutherland spares no one and reminds of the dark international history of deportation that continues today in “enlightened society”.
We hear of people being deported who fight hard not to go. Now we know why through your film.
It was important for me and (co-writer) Jennifer Holness. Once you see something and have the ability to talk about it, it’s your responsibility to talk about it. We wanted to bear witness to it. Originally it was going to be a documentary but we thought a dramatic narrative would have more impact.
The history of deportation is unconscionable – most famously the recent Nazi and Soviet Union deportations.
I just ran over a story of the 70th anniversary of Bulgaria’s decision not to deport Jews to Nazi Germany. They took a stand and said no. Deportation or exile is one of the oldest punishments that humans have, to be ex-communicated, kicked out of the tribe. As a western democracy we have to look at the practice. It’s getting more aggressive even in our own government. What these people face when they are deported, when they are sent with a travel document, not a passport, the ID you may have is worthless in Jamaica. It’s like having no birth certificate. How are you going to get a bank account, or credit, all these things where you start a life? You’re thrown into this crucible and expected to survive, but you’re on the streets. People come to Kingston, get fingerprinted, they’re on the street, and locals won’t give them work. Maybe odd jobs, but really, deportees are blamed for crime. They say “I can’t hire a criminal”, and that’s the thing that in 2005 after 40 interviews, we started this whole thing.
It’s hard to understand why there is no international agency dedicated to the plight of the deportee.
The only western democracy take a step towards the reintegration of deportees in the Jamaica, is the UK government. They only started this year. We are calling upon the Canadian government and American to do the same thing. If you can at least help these people be integrated into society, then maybe they won’t be homeless or drug addicted.
Tatyana Ali plays a woman ripped from her home without notice and sent to Jamaica. She was arrested for something she was too naïve to know and her life is ruined for it.Women particularly are open to exploitation and we wanted to be truthful to that and women and children are swept up into this. One of the things we talk about is the people who are left behind. A lot of these men have many children and there’s a vacuum left when they're gone and we want people to look at that. These deportations are not going to fall through the cracks, but our hope is that the Canadian government will introduce reintegration like the UK. The other part of the equation before this happens in Canada is getting status and getting citizenship rights and responsibilities, that’s part of the political process. These are things we are asking people to do. A lot of people don’t even know their citizenship status, so find out. There are no reason that acts of teen rebellion, because kids are knuckleheads, no reason why that should get you caught up in the criminal justice system and get deported.
What are the stats?
The problem with stats is there is no accurate census. But in Jamaica for example the criminal inmate population is around 5000, the deportees in Jamaica are upwards of 35,000 and there are a lot of issues with public health. Jamaica does not have the safety net we have with first world things coming to bear. What interest me is the other stats, what’s happening in the Americas and the Caribbean. Since the mid-nineties, Latin America had 6 -8 % of the world’s crime, and now its 25%. Deportees factor in because they are murdered, they’re not the killers. They’re getting murdered and that’s the reason for the uptick. This is from the UN report on Latin America and the Caribbean.