UK faces out­cry over treat­ment of for­mer child im­mi­grants

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - International -

BRITAIN is host­ing lead­ers from the 53-na­tion Com­mon­wealth in Lon­don this week as it seeks to bol­ster trade ties around the world af­ter Brexit. But the gath­er­ing of the alliance of the U.K. and its for­mer colonies is be­ing over­shad­owed by a row over peo­ple who moved to Britain from Com­mon­wealth coun­tries as chil­dren decades ago.

Some mem­bers of the “Win­drush gen­er­a­tion” — named for the ship Em­pire Win­drush, which brought hun­dreds of Caribbean im­mi­grants to Britain in 1948 — say they have been threat­ened with de­por­ta­tion de­spite liv­ing in the U.K. for most of their lives.

They came from what were then Bri­tish colonies or newly in­de­pen­dent states, and had an au­to­matic right to set­tle in the U.K. But some say they have been de­nied med­i­cal treat­ment or threat­ened with de­por­ta­tion be­cause they can’t pro­duce pa­pers to prove it.

Bar­ba­dos High Com­mis­sioner Guy He­witt said the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has re­fused a re­quest to meet Ca- ribbean lead­ers on the is­sue dur­ing this week’s Com­mon­wealth sum­mit.

He­witt told the BBC yes­ter­day that he felt Britain was telling peo­ple from the Caribbean “you are no longer wel­come.”

Some 140 law­mak­ers have signed a let­ter urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to find an “im­me­di­ate and ef­fec­tive” re­sponse to con­cerns from Com­mon­wealth-born res­i­dents over their im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Penny Mor­daunt said yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment must “do a bet­ter job” to put peo­ple’s minds at ease.

“Peo­ple should not be con­cerned about this — they have the right to stay and we should be re­as­sur­ing them of that,” Mor­daunt told the BBC.

The dis­pute is an unwelcome dis­trac­tion for Britain, which hopes to use the bi­en­nial Com­mon­wealth sum­mit to bol­ster its bid for free trade deals around the world af­ter the U.K. leaves the Euro­pean Union next year. The Com­mon­wealth links 2.4 bil­lion peo­ple on five con­ti­nents, in coun­tries from vast In­dia and wealthy Aus­tralia to small is­land states like Tonga and Van­u­atu. It es­pouses good gov­er­nance, eco­nomic growth and hu­man rights, but is seen by some as a ves­tige of em­pire with an un­cer­tain mis­sion in the 21st cen­tury.

Queen El­iz­a­beth II, who will for­mally open the Com­mon­wealth Heads of Gov­ern­ment meet­ing at Buck­ing­ham Palace on Thurs­day, has done much to unite the group. She has vis­ited nearly ev­ery Com­mon­wealth na­tion, of­ten mul­ti­ple times, over her 66-year reign.

The 91-year-old has given up long-dis­tance travel, so this is likely to be the last Com­mon­wealth sum­mit she pre­sides over. Heir to the throne Prince Charles will not au­to­mat­i­cally suc­ceed her as head of the Com­mon­wealth. The Com­mon­wealth says that will be a de­ci­sion for the group.

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