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