Windrush: the inevitable result of hostile and racist immigration policy

Windrush: the inevitable result of hostile and racist immigration policy

The Windrush generation is formed of the people who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971 at the invitation of the British government. Since 2014, 50,000 of these people have faced risk of deportation if they did not previously formalise their residency status or if they were unable to show the documentation to prove it. Amongst many complications, including children arriving under their parents’ visas or people coming from countries that were not yet independent, the failure of the Home Office to keep records of people entering the country and being granted indefinite leave to remain has been a key cause. The crisis that has followed is the result of what David Lammy has described as ‘an immigration policy that was allowed to – even designed to – dehumanise, demonise and victimise British citizens’.

Embed from Getty Images

David Lammy MP with representatives of the Windrush Generation – Anthony Bryan, 60, (moved in 1965 from Jamaica), Sarah Connor, 56, (moved in 1967 from Jamaica), David Lammy, Labour Party MP, Paulette Wilson, 62, (moved in 1968 from Jamaica), Sylvester Marshall, 63, (moved in 1973 from Jamaica) and Elwaldo Romeo, 63, (moved in 1959 from Antigua)

The new immigration rules introduced in 2014 under Theresa May as Home Secretary required people to show proof of UK residence in order to access services such as the NHS. Therefore, after being labelled as ‘illegal’, British citizens have been denied access to public services and benefits that they built, staffed and paid for, many have fallen into serious debt as a result of no longer being allowed to work. The way this hostility has filtered into education, healthcare, and employment is a demonstration of Britain’s institutional racism.

Judy Griffiths, 63, arrived in the UK when she was nine and was told in 2015 that she was an illegal immigrant. Since then she has accrued £7,000 in rent debts which the government has not assisted in cancelling. This is one example amongst many, however the exact number of citizens affected by the crisis is not yet known.

After repeated warnings from Caribbean delegates, lawyers, and politicians from as early as 2014, the government is now starting to respond. Yet even when compensation is available it is inaccessible and completely insufficient. The current compensation form is incredibly long, stressful, and uses badly written phrases that are difficult to understand, with Callton Young (a Croydon Labour Councillor and chair of Croydon African Caribbean Family Organisation) calling it ‘a technical barrier to justice for victims of the hostile environment’. The time it takes to complete the form and the constant delays in receiving payment have added to the government’s failure to support the immediate needs of victims.

The impact since then has been huge – the Home Office has come under criticism for the scandal, with Home Secretary Amber Rudd resigning. 11 Windrush generation immigrants who were wrongly deported from the UK have since died, which is shocking and unacceptable. The Home Office has often been criticised for its ‘hostile environment’ policy – and Britain’s upcoming exit from the EU will make Britain an even more unwelcoming environment for immigrants.

JAN Trust believes that the hostile immigration policies that led to this crisis and failures of the Home Office to effectively and respectfully deal with the impacts on British citizens’ lives are unacceptable. The current compensation offered by the government is not equal to justice – much more needs to be done to support the individuals affected. JAN Trust works to support women who are impacted by such racist and hateful immigration policies.

For more information about Windrush compensation click here and go to www.jantrust.org to find out more about the work we do.