Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Government apologises for treatment of 'Windrush generation' of migrants

Government apologises for treatment of 'Windrush generation' of migrants

An online petition demanding an amnesty for anyone who arrived in Britain as a child from Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971 has attracted more than 135,000 signatures and "could trigger a debate in Parliament", reports HuffPost.

The letter was written by David Lammy, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community, and signed by MPs from all parties including Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and several conservative MPs.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has offered an apology in the House of Commons to members of the so-called Windrush generation who have been subjected to what she described as "appalling" treatment by the British Government.

They are known as the Windrush generation - a reference to the ship, the Empire Windrush, which brought workers from the West Indies to Britain in 1948.

Nearly 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. Admitting some "horrendous situations", immigration minister Caroline Nokes told BBC Radio the government had "an absolute responsibility to make sure there are no more of these mistakes".

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There is growing anger that long-term British residents have fallen victim to rule changes in 2012 aimed at stopping overstaying.

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. But the Home Office did not keep records of those who stayed, making it hard for Windrush children to prove they are legally in Britian.

Responding to a question on whether people had been deported in error, Nokes said: "Potentially they have been, and I'm very conscious that it's very much in error and that's an error I want to put right".

"My advice to anyone who finds themselves in these circumstances is to contact your local MP ... that is what we are there for".

The problem follows the ending of a previous system of Commonwealth citizenship and free movement, when status was conferred by law on people to safeguard them but some did not acquire the necessary papers, according to immigration law blog Free Movement.

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The full interview with Channel 4 news will be broadcast this evening. She also demanded respect to their right to health care access and legal employment.

Barbados High Commissioner Guy Hewitt told the BBC: "Because they came from colonies which were not independent, they thought they were British subjects".

Labour has called a public meeting with affected people on April 19.

Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday reversed an earlier decision and agreed to meet Caribbean Commonwealth leaders while they're in London for a summit this week.

The Home Office said delegates at this week's Commonwealth heads of government meeting in London will be able to speak to Mrs May about the situation.

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Nokes encouraged those affected to make contact with the Home Office and said the government is determined to help people build up a picture of their life in the United Kingdom even if they might lack the required documents.

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