Amber Rudd is forced to apologise for her department’s betrayal of the Windrush generation

Amber Rudd
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Amber Rudd has apologised after MPs spoke out about the growing number of cases of British citizens born in the Caribbean and brought to the UK as children during the 1950s and 60s who are facing severe problems with their immigration status.

Rudd was responding after Labour MP David Lammy raised the matter as an urgent question in parliament. Lammy stated that it was:

A day of national shame.

The Windrush generation

After the Second World War, labour shortages meant there was plenty of work in UK industries and the public sector. So parliament passed the British Nationality Act in 1948 and gave British citizenship to all people living in Commonwealth countries. This law granted them full rights of entry and settlement in Britain and the first arrivals were 492 immigrants from the Caribbean. The ship HMT Empire Windrush brought them here and also gave them their nickname – “the Windrush generation”:

After living in the UK for 50 years or more, the government is now asking people to prove their status. Those who can’t are being declared “illegal immigrants” by the Home Office. This has led to people losing their jobs. And unable to claim benefits, they face hardship and homelessness. Some have even been denied NHS care for life-threatening conditions.

The Home Office has also threatened them with deportation. Yet all these people came here legally – as British citizens. They’ve paid taxes and national insurance contributions, and many married and had children and grandchildren here. But they did not apply for a British passport or naturalisation.

“Immoral and inhumane”

Prior to the debate, MPs had taken to Twitter to call out the “immoral and inhumane” situation:

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott will hold a public meeting in parliament on Thursday 19 April:

Lammy was one of 140 MPs who wrote to Theresa May:

Petition

petition is also calling on parliament to grant amnesty for minors who arrived in the UK before 1971. It further calls for an end to all deportations and demands a change to the burden of proof needed to prove citizenship.

At the time of writing, it has received over 141,000 signatures, exceeding the 100,000 needed for a parliamentary debate. Comedian Lenny Henry was one of many people to share the petition:

“This is how the PM marks the 70th Anniversary of their arrival to our shores”

Representatives of 12 Caribbean countries requested that Theresa May discuss this problem with them at this week’s meeting of the Commonwealth heads of government (CHOGM). Initially, this was refused.

Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, called this refusal “a total disgrace”:

But May has since U-turned and will now meet the leaders.

Introduction of tighter immigration rules

The problems have been caused due to tighter immigration laws. The Home Office states:

Recent changes to the law mean that if you wish to work, rent property or have access to benefits and services in the UK then you will need documents to demonstrate your right to be in the UK. The government believes this is a proportionate measure to maintain effective immigration control.

It adds:

We recognise that this is causing problems for some individuals who have lost documents over the long period of time they have been in the UK … No one with the right to be here will be required to leave.

Rudd has now apologised. Speaking to parliament, she stated:

I do not want of any of the Commonwealth citizens who are here legally to be impacted in the way they have and, frankly, some of the way they have been treated has been wrong, has been appalling, and I am sorry.

Yet for many of the children of the Windrush generation, who have built a life here, this apology will be too little, too late.

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