The Windrush Generation and a Very British Scandal

Windrush Square
The Windrush Generation and a Very British Scandal
Shanique Blake on the Windrush Scandal

Not only does the year 2018 mark seventy years since the beginning of the Windrush era, where nationals from Commonwealth countries were invited over to the UK to help rebuild a war-torn Britain; it has now coincided with the infamous Windrush scandal, a scandal which has left many people in the black community with a sense of dread about the strict immigration laws which have come into force.  Following this scandal there are many unanswered questions, and I would like to share my opinion on its possible long-term effects.

Windrush refers to those men and women who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries. It is unclear how many people belong to the Windrush generation, since many of those who arrived as children travelled on their parents' passports and never applied for travel documents, but they are thought to be in their thousands. The Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain or issue any paperwork confirming it, meaning it is difficult for Windrush arrivals to prove that they are in the UK legally.

Changes to immigration law in 2012 required people to have documentation to work, rent a property or access benefits, including healthcare, leaving many fearful about their status. The Home Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed that more than 60 members of the Windrush generation may have been wrongfully deported or removed from the UK, in the first official indication of the scale of the problem.

In effect the scandal has caused instability within the black community. No longer do we feel secure in a country many of us have long called home. We now live in fear due to the flippancy of the British government, even if we believe we have the right to reside in this country. The system has shown that if we do not possess the correct paperwork required, regardless of how long we have lived in this country, then we run a risk of deportation. The most shocking part of this is that this was all able to occur under the law.

So what does this mean for immigrants? It is no secret that the government has vowed to reduce the number of immigrants entering the UK. But what has become apparent is that immigrants are no longer safe even when they believe they have entered and resided legally. The nation has entered into a phase of hysteria fuelled by an anti-immigration rhetoric, where groups such as the English Defence League call for an end to immigration. It would seem that there is no more room on this small island for immigrants, and the government is cracking down and trying to expel those they believe will be easy targets. If it wasn’t for the widespread backlash they received I have no doubt that they would have continued with their plans.

We advise anyone effected by a lack of official Home Office documentation to seek legal support as soon as possible, or visit your nearest Citizen's Advice Bureau.