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'National shame': UK government apologises after threats to deport people who had right to stay

Some among the Windrush generation who were granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK have faced deportation.

THE UK GOVERNMENT has been forced into a climb down over a policy that saw some Caribbean-born citizens who were granted the right to live and work in Britain after the Second World War now threatened with deportation.

Dubbed the Windrush generation, West Indian immigrants began arriving in the UK from 1948 to help rebuild the country after the war, and were given indefinite leave to remain.

The law changed granting new arrivals indefinite leave expired in 1971, but those who failed to get their papers in order by that time were then wrongly treated as an illegal or undocumented immigrants.

Windrush-generation Jamaican immigrants arriving in the UK in 1948. PA Images PA Images

Some 500,000 residents in the UK were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived before 1971, according to estimates from Oxford University’s Migration Observatory.

Some of the Windrush generation are now facing problems due to their legal status, with the Guardian newspaper highlighting numerous cases where those who lack the proper documents were told they need evidence to continue working, get NHS treatment or even remain in the UK.

As many of those who came over in the 1940s, 50s and 60s are now at pensionable age, they are facing increasing problems as they come into contact with State bodies over issues such as healthcare and welfare.

This has happened in recent years because the UK’s Home Office removed a key protection for Windrush residents in the 2014 Immigration Act, the Guardian reported.

In a powerful speech on the matter yesterday during an emergency debate, Labour MP David Lammy called the policies “inhumane and cruel” for the Windrush generation who have “suffered so long in this condition”.

This is a day of national shame and it has come about because of a hostile environment policy that was begun under her prime minister. Let us call it as it is. If you lay down with dogs, you get fleas, and that is what has happened with this far-right rhetoric in this country.

In response, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that “there is absolutely no question about the right to remain”.

Britain Politics Amber Rudd outside 10 Downing Street Kirsty Wigglesworth / PA mages Kirsty Wigglesworth / PA mages / PA mages

“I am very sorry for any confusion or anxiety felt,” she said.

Rudd also announced a new taskforce to help those affected to regularise their immigration status swiftly and for free.

Pressed over the years-long clampdown on illegal immigration by the Conservative-led government, she also admitted that her department could “sometimes lose sight of the individual”.

However, she said she did not believe anyone had actually been deported, although there have been media reports of people who were only saved by the last-minute intervention of lawyers.

Later today, Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with Caribbean leaders to reassure that there will be no deportations over the legacy paperwork issues.

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