Parliament has discussed the Government’s appalling treatment of the Windrush generation, people who came to Britain from the Caribbean in the 1940s and 1950s, long before passports were commonplace.
Several cases have been highlighted where people have been denied the free NHS care they are entitled to or threatened with deportation.
The mistreatment of the Windrush generation is scandalous. These citizens arrived in the UK shortly after 1945, to help rebuild the UK after the Second World War. This is their home and they have contributed greatly to our country.
Under the Immigration Act 1971, all Commonwealth citizens living in the UK were granted indefinite leave to remain. However, the Home Office did not keep records or issue paperwork confirming it. It is also the case that in 2014, the Government removed the immigration protection that existed for Commonwealth citizens who had come here previously.
This whole situation has caused immense distress to the people concerned, widespread concern throughout the country and international disquiet, particularly among Commonwealth leaders.
Following widespread pressure, the Home Office has now confirmed that the Windrush generation do have the right to remain, and apologised for any confusion or anxiety. The Home Office has also established a new team to help individuals to evidence their right to be here and to access necessary services. The Government has already accepted their fault and the case for compensation for the losses and distress this has caused.
Shameful though this is, this is not the first calamity at the Home Office under Theresa May. The immigration service is understaffed and chaotic. Theresa May cut 800 Border Agency staff by 2012. In 2014, 30,000 passports were delayed ruining many family holidays. Theresa May scrapped the e-borders system, to count people in and out of the UK, wasting £200m. Latest figures show the Home Office has lost track of 600,000 people of the 10 million who were due to leave the UK in the past two years.
The Home Office cannot stagger from crisis to crisis. Theresa May needs to sort it out.
We need an efficient, well-resourced immigration service that assists British citizens, and efficiently removes those with no right to be here. If we had that, this Windrush episode might never have happened.
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