'Windrush' scandal: Migrants told to leave U.K. decades after arriving
Published Saturday, April 21, 2018 10:00PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 21, 2018 10:03PM EDT
British Prime Minister Theresa has been forced to apologize after a generation of migrants who helped to rebuild the U.K. after the Second World War were falsely accused of being in the country illegally.
Some of the victims of the so-called “Windrush” scandal have been let go from their jobs, lost access to vital social services and faced deportation.
Windrush was the name of the ship that brought the first load of immigrants from Caribbean countries in 1948. The Commonwealth immigrants who arrived in the decades after that have come to be known as the Windrush generation.
Many of them came as children and were never formally given paperwork, despite being legally in the U.K.
After a policy change in 2013 when May was Home Secretary, some employers were forced to check immigration statuses, and many members of the Windrush generation received letters telling them to leave.
Michael Braithwaite, who was born in Barbados, lost his job as a result of the policy after more than five decades in the country.
The special needs teaching assistant arrived in the U.K. with his parents in 1961 at the age of eight.
“When I was told that I had no status or had no reason to be in the school, it hit me like a ton of bricks,” he said. “I left the school and came home and cried my eyes out.”
David Lammy, a Labour MP of Ghanaian decent, said in Parliament last week that when his parents’ generation arrived in Britain, “they arrived as British citizens.”
“It is inhumane and cruel for so many of that Windrush generation to have suffered so long in this condition,” he said.
“How many have been deported?” Lammy demanded to know from Home Secretary Amber Rudd. “How many have been detained as prisoners in their own country? ... How many have (been) denied health under the National Health Service. How many have been denied pensions? How many have lost their jobs?”
“This is a day of national shame,” Lammy went on. “And it has come about because of a ... policy that was begun under (May).”
May said sorry the following day.
“For those who have mistakenly received letters challenging them, I want to apologize,” she told Parliament.
An estimated 50,000 people have been affected. A task force has been set up to deal with the fallout.
With a report from CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian in London