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UK MPs Urge Theresa May to Give Legal Status to Windrush Generation Migrants

© AFP 2023 / Tolga AkmenBritain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on April 18, 2018, as she heads to the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on April 18, 2018, as she heads to the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons. - Sputnik International
The UK government, mainly the Home Office and Premier Theresa May, are currently in deep water following their promises to deal with the Windrush generation crisis, namely meet the interests of the Caribbean natives who have long been residing in Britain, but have been denied benefits.

The Labor members of Parliament predominantly stick to a harsh stance on the subject, suggesting the government enshrine its vows into law "without delay." Over 200 mainly opposition MPs have written to the prime minister calling for the move, British media reported.

Separately, they accused the interior minister, Amber Rudd, of handling the issue too carelessly, literally inventing immigration policy "on the hoof" in a bid to get sooner over the scandal. 

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Windrush Scandal

Around 500,000 people, currently residing in the UK arrived there before 1971 and originate from Commonwealth countries, according to Oxford University's Migration Observatory.

This group of people fell victim to rule changes in 2012 which aimed to curb overstaying and illegal migration.

Despite living, working and paying tax in Britain for decades they were told they needed evidence, such as passports to continue working or getting NHS treatment. Many kids had notably travelled to Britain on their parents' passports and did not apply for travel documents while in the UK.

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The row reached its climax last week, right on the heels of the Commonwealth summit, as it became known that migrants from the Caribbean region, who settled in the UK decades ago upon the government’s invitation, were asked to prove their right to continue living in Britain. 

Errors have reportedly occurred, documenting the Caribbean descendants' status as "illegal immigrants," which led to them and their children being denied basic rights, threatened with deportation and losing their jobs.

Shortly thereafter, the authorities apologized to those affected and said they are deemed as highly valued members of society.

Who Belongs to the Windrush Generation?

After World War II, between 1948 and 1973, Windrush migrants was welcomed to Britain to meet the issue of labor shortfalls and help reconstruct the postwar country, which was then suffering from economic turmoil.

The name itself – the Windrush generation – alludes to the name of a vessel: the first batch of migrants from the Caribbean flocked to the UK on the ship called the HMT Empire Windrush. It docked at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on June 22, 1948, carrying 492 people on board, many of them children, from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Authorities’ Promises

The UK authorities notably pledged that the Windrush generation would be granted free British citizenship and compensations, including those who had retired and returned to the countries of their origin, after contributing to the reconstruction of postwar Britain between 1948 and 1973. The same privilege has applied to anyone from other Commonwealth member states who resided in the UK over the said period.

To solve the legal aspect of the problem, legal clinics for those who suspect they may be affected by the Windrush migration row will be held throughout May in Brixton’s Windrush Square, in the south of London, British media reported.

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Amber Rudd Under Heavy Scrutiny

The British interior minister, Amber Rudd, has already faced a slew of calls for resignation over the inefficient handling of the row, including one from London’s mayor Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and the leader of her party, Jeremy Corbyn.

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She has so far refuted the calls. On Monday, she is to address Parliament over reportedly giving contradictory comments about whether the government has immigration removal targets, which she said she was unaware of, though "should have been." An internal document surfaced earlier this week, stating that the department has set “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18” and shows off that "they have exceeded our target of assisted returns," according to The Guardian.

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