On 29 April 2018 Amber Rudd (pictured above) was forced to resign as Home Secretary, after the Guardian published her private letter regarding the Windrush deportation scandal. Migrants who have been living in the UK for up to 70 years have been declared illegal, despite working and paying taxes.
The Windrush generation are people who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from British Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean. Empire Windrush ships were delivering workers from the British colonies of Jamaica and other islands to help restore post-war shortages in Great Britain. However, the Home Office did not provide the Windrush immigrants with any official papers confirming their right for legal stay in the UK, and this has caused problems for the generation ever since their arrival.
According to The Migration Observatory there are approximately 500,000 people living in the UK who were born in one of the Commonwealth countries (53 member states that were colonies of the British Empire in the past). Though, active immigration ended in 1971, when the new Immigration Act came into force with the goal of stopping migration from those countries.
If there was an acceptance that a wrong was done, then there should be a process of restoration
Many of the arrivals who were children in the mid-60s now work as nurses, drivers and cleaners, and have been living and paying taxes in Great Britain for several decades. Guy Hewitt, the High Commissioner of Barbados in London, commented on the treatment of the ‘Windrush Kids’ to the BBC, claiming they are “being treated as illegal immigrants” and “being shut out of the system” with some deported or sent to detention centres.
In 2010 the Home Secretary – now our current Prime Minister, Theresa May – implemented a new hostile environment policy. The policy’s primary goal was to make it as difficult as possible for people to stay in the country without official confirmation of their residential status.
In that same year the also Home Office approved the destruction of the landing cards of Windrush arrivals, which stirred more chaos and controversy into deportation scandals. Because those people arrived from British colonies they considered themselves British citizens, which makes a lot of sense logically. But government bureaucracy and procedure does not often work logically.
Disrupting the lives of many
As a consequence of the policy there was a mass deportation of Windrush immigrants between November 2017 to April 2018. The 2010 immigration policy led to the notorious advertising campaign ‘Go home or face arrest’ in 2013, where mobile billboards were driving through various London neighbourhoods with the warnings targeted at illegal migrants.
Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica, told the Guardian that his interest is “to ensure that the Windrush generation and [their children] get justice… They should get access to all the benefits that their citizenship will entitle them to. If there was an acceptance that a wrong was done, then there should be a process of restoration. I’m certain that the robust civil society and democracy that you have will come up with a process of compensation.’’
The situation has made the lives of numerous Windrush immigrants almost unbearable, with its limitation on access to work, housing and healthcare for those who fail to present the proper documentation proving their right to live and work in the UK.
Even though Amber Rudd has resigned as a Home Secretary after confessing to the unjust treatment of Windrush migrants, the hostile environment policy is set to stay. The whole course of events has triggered an enormous political controversy, affecting the lives of all involved.