May apol­o­gizes to postwar mi­grants

China Daily - - WORLD - By JU­LIAN SHEA in Lon­don ju­lian@mail.chi­nadai­lyuk.com Reuters con­trib­uted to this story.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May apol­o­gized to rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 12 Caribbean coun­tries on Tues­day over re­cent harsh treat­ment by im­mi­gra­tion bu­reau­crats of peo­ple who ar­rived in Britain as chil­dren be­tween the late 1940s and the early 1970s.

The so-called “Win­drush gen­er­a­tion”, whose par­ents were in­vited to Britain to plug la­bor short­falls af­ter World War II, have been caught up in a tight­en­ing of im­mi­gra­tion rules over­seen by May in 2012 when she was in­te­rior min­is­ter.

“I want to apol­o­gize to you to­day be­cause we are gen­uinely sorry for any anx­i­ety that has been caused,” May told lead­ers and diplo­mats from the Caribbean coun­tries, who were in Lon­don for a sum­mit of Com­mon­wealth heads of gov­ern­ment.

Bri­tish Home Sec­re­tary Amber Rudd has also apol­o­gized for the “ap­palling” treat­ment given by her own depart­ment to the Win­drush Gen­er­a­tion af­ter it emerged long-term United King­dom res­i­dents were be­ing threat­ened with de­por­ta­tion to the Caribbean coun­tries.

The Em­pire Win­drush was the first boat to bring peo­ple from Ja­maica to the UK af­ter the war, and un­der the 1948 Na­tion­al­ity Act, they were in­vited as Bri­tish cit­i­zens. The name is now used as a gen­eral term for peo­ple who ar­rived from for­mer Bri­tish Em­pire ter­ri­to­ries in sub­se­quent years.

It has now emerged that peo­ple who have lived in the UK for decades are be­ing chal­lenged to prove their right to be in the coun­try, or face be­ing sent to coun­tries they left as chil­dren.

The Home Of­fice even pub­lished guide­lines to peo­ple sent back to Ja­maica to “help them set­tle” such as “Try to be ‘Ja­maican’ — use lo­cal ac­cents and di­alects”.

The is­sue caused out­rage across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum.

Con­ser­va­tive MP Ja­cob Rees Mogg de­scribed it as “ab­so­lutely dread­ful. These peo­ple are as Bri­tish as you or I”, adding that it was “a deep dis­grace”.

Labour MP David Lammy, the son of im­mi­grants from Guyana, told Par­lia­ment it was “a day of na­tional shame”, and blamed the sit­u­a­tion on a “hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment” to­ward im­mi­grants which he said was down to Rudd’s pre­de­ces­sor — Prime Min­is­ter May.

Me­dia out­lets have car­ried sto­ries of peo­ple in their 50s and 60s who came to the UK as chil­dren be­ing asked to prove their en­ti­tle­ment to med­i­cal care, and in some cases los­ing jobs, but un­til re­cently, May stood by the pol­icy.

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