20 April 2018
In recent days, the government has faced criticism of its treatment of people from the so-called Windrush Generation. Those who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries have been labelled the Windrush generation, after the ship which brought them here as a response to post-war labour shortages in the UK. Almost 500 migrants from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados came to the UK at the invitation of the British government.
The 1971 Immigration Act gave Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) to Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK but the Home Office did not record details of such individuals. As a result, they were not issued any documents confirming their leave. As they came from British colonies that had not achieved independence, they believed they were British citizens; their children who are now adults have always thought they had the right to live in the UK.
In 2013, then Home Secretary Theresa May pushed to tighten the immigration rules and announced a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants. This meant making it incredibly inconvenient for those lacking documents to work, rent, open bank accounts and get treatment from the NHS. The Windrush generation who were not issued any documents confirming their ILR have found it difficult to prove their right to live and work in the UK and many have reported losing their jobs and receiving deportation notices from the Home Office.
On Tuesday, Theresa May apologised to 12 Caribbean nations for the treatment of the people from the Windrush generation and said that she was “genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused.”
Amber Rudd also apologised for the “appalling” treatment received by the Windrush generation and said the Home Office had become “too concerned with policy and strategy” that it sometimes “loses sight of the individual.”
A new task force has been set up which will be helping long term UK residents born in the Commonwealth prove they are entitled to stay in the UK. People are now applying for a No Time Limit (NTL) endorsement at a cost of £229. The onus is still on the individual to provide evidence, but Amber Rudd has promised the process for the generation would be completed “quickly, effectively and efficiently.” This remains to be seen.