The government was accused of presiding over a ‘national day of shame’ as it emerged some British people may have been deported by mistake.
MPs held an emergency debate on the Windrush Crisis today, which has seen people who came to the UK legally as children ‘losing their jobs, being denied NHS treatment’ and potentially even being sent back to the Caribbean.
Amber Rudd apologised for the ‘appalling’ way in which some had been treated. She said she wasn’t aware of any specific cases where people had been deported but urged people to contact her if they knew of any.
Immigrants from the Caribbean were invited to come to Britain with their families to help rebuild the country after WWII, but many don’t have documentation as bureaucracy was less rigid at the time.
They are here totally legitimately, but have suffered consequences because they can’t prove it.
Tottenham MP David Lammy, whose own parents came from Guyana, was praised for a passionate speech in the Commons today.
He said: ‘It is inhumane and cruel for so many of that Windrush Generation to have suffered so long in this condition, and for the Secretary of State to only make a statement today.
‘Can she explain how many have been deported? It’s her department – she should know the number.
‘Can she tell the house how many have been detained as prisoners in their own country?
‘How many have been denied health under the NHS? How many have been denied their pensions? How many have lost their jobs?
‘This is a day of national shame.’
He accused the government of pandering to far-right rhetoric on immigration leading to awful human consequences, saying: ‘When you lie down with dogs, you get fleas’.
Ms Rudd told MPs she was ‘concerned’ that the Home Office had ‘become too concerned with policy and strategy, and sometimes loses sight of the individual’.
‘This is about individuals, and we have seen the individual stories, and they have been, some of them, terrible to hear, and that is why I have acted.’
She added: ‘I am not aware of any specific cases of a person being removed in these circumstances.
‘That is why I have asked the high commissioners if they know of any, that they should bring it to me.
‘And I would ask anybody here if they know of any such circumstances, they should bring them to the Home Office.’
She earlier apologised for the way the Windrush generation had been treated, telling MPs during Home Office questions: ‘Frankly, some of the ways they have been treated has been wrong, has been appalling and I am sorry.’
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the Government must ‘consider the question of compensation’ and said: ‘We have to acknowledge when the Commonwealth heads of governments are gathered in London, what a disgrace it is that this Government has treated Commonwealth migrants in this way.’
Ms Rudd said there would be no removals or detentions: ‘In accordance with my wishes today, there will be no removals or detention as part of any assistance to help former Commonwealth citizens get their proper documentation in place.’