Today (Monday 22nd of June) is Windrush Day. This marks 72 years since the HMT Empire Windrush arrived at the Tilbury docks in Essex carrying over 1000 passengers from the Caribbean. In this same year the British Nationality Act gave status to the citizens of then British colonies. From that day until 1970 nearly half a million people migrated to the UK from the Caribbean. They have had a tremendous impact on the shaping of British culture and helped rebuild British infrastructure after WW2 as well as making up a large proportion of health workers who have been frontline workers in the pandemic. However, they have been met with hostility and racism from the British government.
In 1999, The Immigration and Asylum Act gave protection to long standing UK residents from Commonwealth nations from enforced removal. The Immigration Act of 2014 failed to make provision for those people who had immigrated from former colonies before 1973 and in 2018 83 people were deported.
In 2012, Theresa May’s Home Office introduced the “Hostile Environment” policy including measures to limit access to work, housing, healthcare, bank accounts and more. It is characterised by a system of citizen-on-citizen immigration checks, where NHS, landlord, banks and employers enforced immigration controls and reported those who failed to meet check. The majority of these proposals became law via the Immigration Act 2014.
Those who came to the country as part of the Windrush generation were promised this right on arrival between 1948 and 1973, however the Home Office demanded evidence for every year since 1973.
As it was near-impossible to find sufficient evidence, these individuals were labelled illegal immigrants, a large number were held in immigration detention and blocked from seeing their families, while others were forcibly deported to the countries they hadn’t seen, lived in, or known since they were young children. So far the Home Office has admitted to 164 wrongful deportation cases, 11 of these individuals have since died homeless in the countries they were deported to. The Home Office, however, made a profit of £800m during the time period of these cases.
One in 10 registered nurses in the UK came from overseas and each one, and every health and care worker, has played a special role in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UK needs to value the Windrush generation and the immigrants who came after this date. We must make steps towards ending racism in Britain, supporting victims of the Windrush scandal and donating to charities who give support to those affected by racism.
How you can help:
Email home office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate Black Minds Matter: www.blackmindsmatteruk.com
Donate to Law Centres to help people who cannot afford a lawyer: www.lawcentres.org.uk
Windrush Victim support: cacfouk.org/home/windrush-victim-support/
Free Advice: iasservices.org.uk/free-advice-members-windrush-generation/