Hackney Mayor, Philip Glanville, has asked the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to address the immigration policies that denied members of Hackney’s Windrush generation access to public services and threatened them with deportation.
Between 1948 and 1971, the government called on people from Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean to come to Britain as a way to address labour shortages. This generation was named the Windrush generation.
Despite being considered British citizens, many didn’t receive formal papers. New laws implemented with the Immigration Act 2014 have resulted in uncertainty for the Windrush generation’s future in the UK.
Glanville has written to the new Home Secretary calling on him to undo the policies that have caused the Windrush generation to be “treated as second class citizens” by the government.
Glanville wrote: “Hackney has a long cherished history of migration which has made it the special place it is today. About 8% of its population is of Afro-Caribbean ethnicity and, though the Council does not have precise figures, it’s believed the borough is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of the Windrush generation, and many more come from Commonwealth countries across the globe.
Javid was appointed Home Secretary by Theresa May last month and has since pledged his commitment to do right by the Windrush generation. Javid, a second-generation migrant, has also stated that the issue felt “very personal” to him and that he was “immediately impacted” by it.
Glanville voices concern for people with documentation who are now facing prejudice: “As well as the personal anguish this ‘hostile environment’ approach has had on British citizens, it is leading to a host of other negative policy outcomes.
“Fear of drawing attention to themselves and facing deportation is acting as a barrier to people who are not undocumented migrants from accessing services and advice to which they are fully entitled.”
Glanville asked for further information on how the government is planning to address the issues the policies are inflicting on people of the Windrush generation: “I would appreciate an update on what actions your department is taking to resolve the issues surrounding the status of the Windrush generation?
“I would also be pleased to hear more about changes you intend to make to dismantle the ‘hostile environment’ policies which are causing such concern among Hackney residents.
“As a Council we are also keen to support any of our residents who have been adversely affected. I would welcome any information you have on Hackney residents who were part of the Windrush generation, their current status, and how we can support them or best direct them to support.”
Former councillor and Hackney resident, Patrick Vernon, launched an online petition calling on the government to put a stop to deportations, change the burden of proof and offer amnesty to people who travelled across to Britain as children. The petition also asked for compensation for loss and hurt.
The petition received close to 180,000 signatures and was debated in parliament on April 30. The common message to the Windrush generation from the parliament was that they belong in the UK and that the government will work on resolving the issue.
View Glanville’s full letter here.