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Windrush: What now?

“People who arrived in the UK many years ago and do not have documentation confirming their immigration status have faced difficulties in proving their right to work, to rent property and to access benefits and services to which they are entitled. The Government has apologised to people in this position and has made a commitment to help them get the documents they need.”  (The Windrush Scheme)

Despite having lived in the UK as fully fledged British Citizens for decades, members of the Windrush generation continue to battle against hostile Home Office Immigration Policy to confirm their immigration status.

Immigration policy is never off the political agenda. When the current government confirmed its renewed vigour to reduce net immigration and crackdown on illegal immigration, it wrongly targeted the Windrush generation, who having arrived in the UK from 1948 onwards had a legitimate and legal basis to stay in the UK. In her first significant policy address since becoming home secretary, Ms Amber Rudd reiterated the government’s further crackdown on ‘illegal immigration’ in line with Prime Minister Theresa May’s declaration she was committed to reducing net migration to “sustainable” levels. As a result,  members of the Windrush generation were wrongly classified as ‘illegal immigrants’ and also in part because of the automated procedures introduced in the Home Office case working departments, resulting in deportation letters wrongly being sent to members of the Windrush generation.

Following public outrage and lobbying by various MP’s and campaigns, the Home Office acknowledged their shortcomings and now state their “priority to right the wrongs that have occurred”. To this end, they launched the ‘The Windrush scheme’ on 30 May 2018, for members of the Windrush generation to apply for their immigration status in the UK. However, the onus is on these undocumented long term UK residents to demonstrate their status. One problem, as emphasised by the Home Office guidance, is that it is based on ’all available evidence, including from Home Office records and those of other government departments.’ However, that is part of the reason why members of the Windrush generation faced wrongful deportation in the first place, despite having a legitimate basis to stay in the UK.

A public consultation on a compensation scheme for the victims of the Windrush scandal was also recently announced by the Home Office, along with the commission of a “lessons learned” review.  But for some of the victims it is too late. Take for example, Sentina Bristol, the mother of the now deceased Windrush generation member Dexter Bristol. She walked out of a recent inquest into his death after the Coroner’s refusal to widen the scope of the inquiry into his death, to include the issue that her son was the victim of a hostile environment created by the Home Office and its immigration policies. Dexter died not long after being told he was an ‘illegal immigrant’ by the Home Office and was sacked from his job.

Reform to this area is also a battle against the long dictated government policy. Whilst government reforms have been initiated, essentially to right the wrongs in the wake of the Windrush scandal, this seems to conflict with the Home Office’s commitment “to reduce net migration to sustainable levels”.

In addition, the Home Office’s internal audit process, conducted by senior caseworkers and independent auditors who assess the application of Home Office Policy to their assigned cases, appears flawed and should be critically reviewed.

As matters currently stand, the Windrush generation are burdened with uncertainty as to their immigration status and are reliant on the assigned Home Office Windrush caseworkers, to progress and determine their claims.

If you need help with your immigration status, applying to remain in the UK or have any other immigration query, contact our experienced immigration solicitors at Axiom Stone Solicitors.

Article by: RANJIT NAHAL.