Post-war Britain saw a period of mass migration, beginning in 1948 with the arrival of The Windrush. This ship carried almost 500 migrants from the West Indies, from colonies of Britain. Many migrants of what is now known as the ‘Windrush Generation’ were children. They joined their parents or travelled on the same passport to start a new life in the motherland of the British Empire. But when the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962 was passed, new controls were put in place. Many adults who were already living in the UK were allowed Indefinite Leave to Remain but their children were not automatically granted official citizenship.
56 years after this act, many retirement-age migrants who’ve been in the country since childhood are having their lives unsettled by the Home Office. There have been several highly publicised cases of people coming close to deportation, being labelled illegal after a lifetime in the country. The Conservative’s ‘hostile environment’ is improperly targeting people who are British citizens in every way except formally.
Some of the issues they face:
- Being unaware of a need to naturalise with their parents
- Lost original passports
- School records having been deleted
- No driving licence
- No British passport
Many of these migrants have never needed to apply for a British passport or even open a bank account, so have gone unaware of their precarious immigration status.
These people have lived here almost all their lives and call themselves British. They have paid taxes and worked the same as all British-born citizens yet they are being denied access to the rights that other citizens receive.
Many of these migrants have grown-up families in the UK and children with British citizenship. This was the case for Anthony Bryan, who has successfully managed to dispute the Home Office decision. He remains in the country legally with his children and grandchildren.
The children of the Windrush migrants are also reaching retirement age, meaning that any family left in their home countries could have passed away. This leaves them to face the prospect of being sent to a country with no support system or personal contact at all.
Some of the previous British territories that might be involved:
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
The ‘Hostile Environment’
Policies implemented by Theresa May as Home Secretary affecting the NHS, landlords and employers mean that Windrush migrants are suddenly ineligible to work, cannot receive treatment for life-threatening illnesses and face losing their homes all because of an inability to provide the correct documentation.
Backed by over 140 MPs, Labour backbencher and Windrush descendant David Lammy has recently issued an urgent question to the Prime Minister in the hopes of tackling this issue, increasing momentum around the campaign to end the oppressive treatment of Windrush migrants which has been generating for a number of years.
As Commonwealth leaders gathered in London for the first time in 20 years, the Prime Minister has privately apologised to Caribbean leaders and states that the government intends to resolve the issues faced by the hundreds of people affected by this scandal, which will hopefully see them granted the citizenship they so deserve.