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News > World

UK: Windrush Generation Members to Be Denied Citizenship

  • Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid arrives in Downing Street, London.

    Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid arrives in Downing Street, London. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 September 2018

Diane Abbott called the British government "scandalous" for subjecting the Windrush generation to "conditions that other British citizens are not.”

The British government has publicly announced that members of the Windrush generation will be denied British citizenship. In a statement released by the Home Secretary Friday, the government said that certain Caribbean national who migrated to Britain between 1948 and 1971 do not qualify for citizenship in Britain because they committed criminal offenses, thus, falling short of meeting the “necessary good character requirement.”

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Britain's Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, also said citizenship refusals would also be issued to those who had applied for documentation from abroad but been found to be ineligible as they were not able to provide sufficient evidence that they were settled in the UK before 1 January 1973, according to the Independent.

In response to the statements, Diane Abbott, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said it was absolutely "scandalous that the Home Office should subject the Windrush generation to conditions that other British citizens are not.”

Legal experts said it will be "impossible to know" whether decisions to deny Windrush generation residents citizenship "were fair or not."

Chai Patel, legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, pointed that Windrush generation residents "can’t have any faith that these rejections are valid unless those people have a chance to get independent legal advice and appeals, and neither of those things are in place.”

He went on to note that there is "a lot that needs clarifying" concerning the government's Windrush taskforce, particularly related to the number of people granted indefinite leave to remain, and what would occur to those who were not.

"There are clearly going to be people refused not just citizenship but the right to stay as well...What they’re not saying is how many people they’ve decided don’t have a right to be here at all and what they’re going to do when they say that to people," Patel added.

“They’re refusing citizenship, but what about status? How many people have you said you can’t have any status off the back of this helpline, and what’s happened to them?"

Over seventy years ago, the Empire Windrush passenger liner docked at Tilbury in Britain. Aboard were over 1,000 Black passengers from across Britain's then Colonies in the English-speaking Caribbean, who were encouraged to migrate and help rebuild the land of her majesty after it was devastated following World War II. Thousands more would make the journey between 1948 and 1971.

They became known as the Windrush Generation.

Confronted by structural racism and day-to-day discrimination, they would persevere, filling vacancies in Britain's National Health Service (NHS), construction, public transportation, postal service, and other vital sectors, many also became entrepreneurs. In fact, the first wave of Windrush immigrants began a more than a two-decade-long process which helped Britain become a more diverse and vibrant society.

Now, classified as illegal immigrants, denied essential public services such as healthcare, their arrival cards intentionally destroyed and subject to deportations, the aging Windrush Generation, and their descendants, are faced with a campaign of mistreatment by British authorities.

UK: US$70M, 2-Year Deportation Bill Sends 900 Back to Caribbean

"One of the uglier manifestations of whiteness in this society is an unassailable sense of in-your-face entitlement," wrote noted activist, professor, and writer Gus John.

His letter, which was addressed to British Prime Minister Theresa May after she invited him to attend the official Windrush Day celebrations, went on to say that “it would be a shameful betrayal to them all (the Windrush Generation) to accept your invitation.”

Speaking about the arrival card database destruction, Sir Bob Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, said some government ministers described May's tenure at the Home Office as being “almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”

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