Over the last few days there have been concerning reports that immigrants from the Commonwealth who came to Britain as children from 1948 onwards, known as the ‘Windrush Generation’, are now being questioned about their legality to remain in the UK and have been asked to produce documents that they either no longer have or were never issued with.
People who have spent their lives living, working and contributing to Britain are now subject to possible deportation and at the very least heartache, stress and uncertainty. For example, Paulette Wilson, a former cook at the House of Commons restaurant who came to Britain from Jamaica in 1968, was detained at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Centre after she was unable to prove her right to remain. Many others have lost their jobs, can no longer access their state retirement benefits or are being charged unaffordable sums for life-saving treatment that they have received from the NHS.
These hostile measures by the Home Office resonates with the Jewish community, given the experience of the German Jews who came to Britain during the Second World War. Despite fleeing Nazi Germany, many were branded ‘Alien Enemies’ by the British State.
Watch our interview with Fritz Lustig, a Jewish refugee who was detained on the Isle of Mann in the 1940s, here.
We are extremely concerned and saddened that, nearly 80 years later, Britain is again refusing to grant right to remain to those who have rightly come to this country and since made vast contributions to the community.
The experiences that the Windrush Generation are currently facing is just one component of the Government’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy which, according to Liberty, is “aimed at making life unbearably difficult for undocumented people in order to deter more migrants coming to the UK and to encourage people to leave”.
Over 140 MPs signed a letter coordinated by David Lammy MP, urging the Prime Minister to take immediate action and guarantee rights of the Windrush generation to remain in the UK. In a statement in the House of Commons today, Home Secretary Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP announced the establishment of a new taskforce with the aim of ensuring that the Windrush generation receive the necessary paperwork to confirm their immigration status.
In an interview this morning Immigration Minister Rt Hon Caroline Noakes MP apologised for “all of the individual, heart-breaking cases”, stating “we have to do better”.
We welcome that the Government has accepted responsibility for the problems caused but now urge that adequate resources are provided to confirm the secure immigration status of all those affected as quickly as possible.
**Update: In wake of the scandal, Amber Rudd has resigned as Home Secretary. In her recognition letter she stated that she had ‘inadvertently mislead‘ MPs by denying that the Home Office set deportation targets.
Sajid Javid, former Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, has since been appointed to the role. We welcome the new Home Secretary to the post and support calls for him to reverse “inhumane and arbitrary” immigration policies, including a time limit on immigration.