Barry Gardiner

Working Hard for Brent North

The Windrush Generation

Recently, it has been reported that thousands who arrived as children in the first wave of Commonwealth immigration have faced being threatened with deportation. 

Under the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain. This Act came fully into force on 1 January 1973. However, the Home Office did not keep records or issue any paperwork confirming it, meaning it is difficult for the individuals to now prove they are in the UK legally.

Several cases have been highlighted where people have been denied the free NHS care they are entitled to or threatened with deportation. Some may even have been unjustly deported.

The mistreatment of the Windrush generation is scandalous. They were invited here as citizens to help rebuild the UK after the Second World War. This is their home and they have contributed hugely to our country.

Under the Immigration Act 1971, all Commonwealth citizens living in the UK were granted indefinite leave to remain. However, the Home Office did not keep records or issue paperwork confirming it. It is also the case that in 2014, the Government removed the immigration protection that existed for Commonwealth citizens who had come here previously.

This whole situation has caused immense distress to the people concerned, widespread concern throughout the country and international disquiet – and is a direct consequence of the “hostile environment” policy for migrants created by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.

Following widespread pressure, the Home Office has now confirmed that the Windrush generation do have the right to remain, and apologised for any confusion or anxiety. The Home Office has also established a new team to help individuals to evidence their right to be here and to access necessary services.

It is shameful that the UK has treated the Windrush generation in this way. The Government should restore the protections which were removed in 2014 and confirm the rights of the Windrush generation as British citizens. We must establish the facts on any deportations and the Government must make apologies where necessary and invite anyone who has been deported in error back to the UK immediately. 

Compensation should be paid to those who were denied employment, medical treatments or pension rights. There must be an end to the entire hostile environment policy towards migrants.

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