UK PM May faces back­lash over treat­ment of ‘Windrush gen­er­a­tion’ of mi­grants

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May is un­der pres­sure to re­solve the sta­tus of thou­sands of Bri­tish res­i­dents who ar­rived from the Caribbean decades ago and are now be­ing de­nied ba­sic rights af­ter be­ing in­cor­rectly iden­ti­fied as il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

More than 140 mem­bers of par­lia­ment have signed a let­ter to the prime min­is­ter call­ing on her to re­solve an anom­aly that means many peo­ple who ar­rived in Bri­tain as chil­dren be­tween 1948 and 1971 are be­ing de­nied health ser­vices, pre­vented from work­ing and in some cases threat­ened with deportation.

There is grow­ing anger that long- term Bri­tish res­i­dents have fallen vic­tim to rule changes in 2012 aimed at halt­ing over­stay­ing. This meant that their le­gal sta­tus changed de­spite liv­ing, work­ing and pay­ing tax in Bri­tain for decades.

Many have been told they need ev­i­dence in­clud­ing pass­ports to con­tinue work­ing or get­ting health treat­ment. But many ar­rived on their par­ents’ doc­u­men­ta­tion and never for­mally ap­plied for Bri­tish cit­i­zen­ship or a pass­port.

“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 au­thor of the let­ter.

The im­mi­grants are named af­ter the Windrush, one of the first ships that brought Caribbean mi­grants to Bri­tain in 1948 in the af­ter­math of World War II, when la­bor short­ages meant peo­ple from the Com­mon­wealth, a net­work of mostly former Bri­tish colonies, were in­vited to help re­build the econ­omy.

Al­most half a mil­lion peo­ple left their homes in the West Indies to live in Bri­tain be­tween 1948 and 1970, ac­cord­ing to Bri­tain’s Na­tional Ar­chives.

Bri­tish me­dia have re­ported cases such as a man who was de­nied treat­ment for can­cer and a spe­cial needs teach­ing as­sis­tant who lost his job af­ter be­ing ac­cused of be­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants de­spite liv­ing in Bri­tain for more than 40 years.

The Bri­tish govern­ment last week re­fused a re­quest from the high com­mis­sion­ers of 12 Caribbean na­tions for a meet­ing on this sub­ject at the Com­mon­wealth Heads of Govern­ment Meet­ing in Lon­don this week.

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