UK PM May faces backlash over treatment of 'Windrush generation' of migrants

Elias Hubbard
April 16, 2018

The 1971 Immigration Act gave all Commonwealth citizens living in the United Kingdom the right to remain but free movement between Commonwealth nations was ended from that time onwards.

More than 140 MPs from all parties have signed a letter to Theresa May expressing concern over the so-called Windrush generation.

Guy Hewitt, Barbados high commissioner, said a meeting request from Caribbean leaders to discuss the issue with the prime minister this week was rejected by the government.

Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London, backed a petition calling for amnesty which now has the 100,000 signatures required to be considered for parliamentary debate.

Penny Mordaunt, the global development secretary, said there was no "absolutely no question of their right to remain" but admitted the Home Office's handling needed to be better.

Thousands of people arrived in the United Kingdom as children in the first wave of Commonwealth immigration 70 years ago.

Dubbed the Windrush generation after the cruise ship that brought one of the first large groups of West Indians to Britain, anyone who entered the United Kingdom before 1973 is legally entitled to live in the country.

"She is aware that many people are unlikely to have documents that are over 40 years old and she is clear that no-one with the right to be here will be made to leave".

The changes to the immigration rules could be a major headache for Mrs May, for it was under her stewardship of the Home Office, the British government department that oversees the immigration system, that the decision was taken to make the United Kingdom a "hostile environment" for illegal immigrants.

Asked how many had been deported, Nokes replied: "I don't know the numbers but what I am determined to do... is say we'll have no more of this". A spokesman added that there was "no intention" of making people who have the right to remain here leave.

"What clearly needs to happen is we need to do a better job with the process that these individuals are having to go through".

"That we send a message of reassurance to people who are here, we want to get this right for them".

"That these individuals are being treated with such contempt, disrespect and lack of dignity is a national disgrace", said David Lammy, an opposition Labour member of parliament and the author of the letter to the prime minister.

"This is the first time I have felt that the country of my birth is saying to people of my region "you are no longer welcome".

Hundreds of thousands of people who arrived in the United Kingdom from Commonwealth countries in the 1950s and 1960s, and were given indefinite leave to remain in 1971 - but the Home Office did not issue paperwork at the time.

Ministers are under pressure to end the "inhumane" betrayal of migrants who came here with their parents after the Second World War and never became naturalised British citizens.

The Guardian newspaper has highlighted a number of cases of such people being threatened with deportation.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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