News

British PM to meet Commonwealth leaders over deportation row

Monday, April 16, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!


LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet Commonwealth leaders this week following outrage that people who moved to Britain from the Caribbean in the 1950s and 1960s now risk being deported, her spokesman said Monday.

Around 140 British lawmakers have called for action over the "inhumane" plight of members of the so-called Windrush generation, named after the ship that brought over the first group of West Indian immigrants in 1948.

They were invited to work in Britain after World War II and given indefinite leave to remain, but many who failed to get their papers in order now risk being uprooted if they cannot prove their legal rights.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes conceded that "we have made mistakes", revealing that in some cases people were asked to provide four pieces of documentary evidence for every year spent in Britain.

Leaders of the 53 Commonwealth countries are in London for their biennial heads of government meeting, and some member states have expressed alarm at the situation.

Guy Hewitt, the London-born High Commissioner to Barbados, told BBC radio that he felt "the country of my birth is saying to people of my region you are no longer welcome on my shores".

"Because they came from British colonies which were not independent they felt they were British subjects, they felt there was no need for them to recognise their status.

"And now, 40, 50 years on they are being told by the Home Office that they are illegal immigrants. They are being shut out of the system, some of them detained, others have been deported," he said.

The prime minister's spokesman insisted that "no-one with the right to be here will be made to leave".

He confirmed that 12 Commonwealth leaders had requested a meeting and one was urgently being organised this week.

"She deeply values the contribution made by these and all Commonwealth citizens who have made a life in the UK," he said.

"If there have been problems which people have been put through, that clearly would be a matter of regret."

Opposition Labour lawmaker David Lammy, whose parents were from Guyana, organised a letter signed by 140 cross-party MPs against what he said was a "grotesque, immoral and inhumane" situation.

The letter highlights how the uncertainty surrounding people's immigration status has affected their right to work, to rent homes, to receive pensions or even access healthcare.

"It is a stain on our nation's conscience," he said, adding that the prime minister's decision to call a meeting was only a "small" concession.

He demanded guarantees for "all the Windrush children caught up in this crisis. Anything less than that is not good enough".

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT