June 22 marks the arrival of Afro-Caribbean on the soil of the United Kingdom now called Windrush Day. Three years after WWII, Europe was ravaged by the destructive war resulting into destruction and human capital deficit. On 22 June 1948, the British Empire brought strong men and women from the West Indian islands to help in the reconstruction of their parent colony. Over half a million Caribbeans were shipped to the United Kingdom over decades which later became home to them.
As we celebrate Windrush Day, we should be continually reminded of the people who are still fighting for their liberation and restoration of their human dignity. Affected people of the Windrush generation continue to be stateless in a country that became their home after living and working there for decades which is the United Kingdom.
The Windrush Scandal which came as a result of the tenacious journalistic investigation on families and generations of Windrush carried out by Gentleman, revealed the States authorisation of discreet arrestation, detention and deportation of people of West Indies origin , notably Jamaicans, whose documents have not been rightfully processed and updated.
The scandal brought about shame and distraught not only to the government and its operatives but to many who had not been aware of such dehumanising treatment on people who know only Britain as their home yet being whisked away to a foreign land, they have no clue about; despite being their ancestral land. The state that they expected and trusted would have protected them, turned its back on them.
The Windrush phenomena is one of neocolonialism, exploitation and a political travesty which benefits their political orgy and capitalistic satisfaction. They have been deprived and denied their political and social rights and human rights.
According to awarding winning Journalist, Amelia Gentleman who was honoured for her bravery and courage in the coverage of Windrush scandal, the letters were sent to many people who joined their families through the Empire/Commonwealth colonies framework and had lived and worked in the UK for over 50 years. The ‘liability for removal’ letter was the decisive step yet most shocking moment for victims of the Windrush generation. This was news to many when the scandal broke.
The letter emanated from the Home Office indicating that “you are specifically considered to be a person who has failed to provide evidence of lawful entry to the United Kingdom […] therefore you are liable for removal’. These letters were sent to people who joined the parents, who were then “British Subjects” which had an equivalence of British citizenship and on the other hand citizens of the Commonwealth which represented the Empire.
The Immigration policy which was famous in 2010 during Theresa May’s era as Home Secretary was described to be ‘really hostile environment for immigrants’ as some opined that it was meant to target a certain group of immigrants on grounds of illegal residency to reduce the number of immigrants and remove undocumented persons.
The 2014 Immigration Act empowers officials to arrest, detain and deport undocumented people. The Act becomes a threat to members and families of the Windrush generation which is discriminatory and deprives them from accessing many services which they had access to earlier.
According to the 2014 Act, if a person’s status is termed “illegal”, he/she becomes deportable. The sad part of being deportable means appeals against the decision has to follow the deportation process which is done outside the UK territory.