Government in Crisis over treatment of the ‘Windrush Generation’

Theresa May has bowed to increasing pressure over the treatment of members of the ‘Windrush Generation’, which include many immigrants from the Commonwealth who arrived in Britain as children during the 1950s and 60s, but have now been told that they have been living in Britain illegally. 

Named after the HMT Empire Windrush, the ship that in 1948 brought immigrants from Jamaica,the Windrush Generation includes many immigrants from around the British Empire that were brought to Britain to fill the postwar manpower shortages in the labour market.

Under the 1971 Immigration Act, Commonwealth citizens were told that they had indefinite leave to remain, but as no records were kept of those granted this right, recently the Home Office has been demanding that they provide evidence of a right to remain in the UK, or face deportation. 

A cross party group of 140 MPs, led by Labour MP David Lammy, had written to the government demand an “immediate and effective” solution to be found. Theresa May had also come under pressure from pro-Tory media outlets and cabinet ministers who had expressed concerns over the treatment of the British residents. 

Now Theresa May has U-turned on the decision to refuse to meet representatives of 12 Commonwealth countries, and the Prime Minister has told journalists during this mornings lobby briefing that she will meet with Caribbean leaders later this week. 

The recent crackdown on Commonwealth citizens comes as a result of the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts, which require employers and a range of public bodies to require evidence of people’s citizenship, as part of a wider drive to cut annual immigration down to the tens of thousands under Theresa May’s time as Home Secretary. 

Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, commenting on the mistreatment of the Windrush Generation, said:
 
“The treatment of ‘Windrush Generation’ of migrants who came from the Caribbean is scandalous. Many came here as children, their parents invited to the UK to work.  They have been here decades, worked and paid taxes, set down roots and created families of their own. This is their home.
 
“But the Government is treating them as illegal aliens. They are denied the free NHS care they are entitled to or even threatened with deportation. This must stop.
 
“I have called a meeting to demand the Government changes course and to discuss a way forward. It should be a simple humanitarian and decent thing to allow the small number of people involved their automatic rights.”

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