Windrush ‘Lessons Learned’ means ending second class citizenship for the #WindrushGeneration their descendants and families

Movement for Justice submission to Windrush Lessons Learned Review

  1. INTRODUCTION

“Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.” MLK, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

  • The Windrush scandal has exposed the rotting carbuncle of racism that rests at the heart of British immigration legislation. An open secret which black, Asian and immigrant communities have known for decades; the whole system of British immigration controls and Home Office decision-making is inherently racist and shaped by anti-immigrant rhetoric by sections of the media and politicians of all stripes.
  • The challenge before this review is to ensure that ‘lessons learned’ – does not become another euphemism for ‘time to move on,’ and that real, lasting and radical change to British immigration and nationality laws and rules happens. That requires a full, in depth, public inquiry into the Windrush Scandal, this Review should join the many voices calling for an Inquiry. This can achieve what the Lawrence Inquiry achieved for equalities legislation and the recognition of institutional racism in the British police.
  • Movement for Justice began campaigning on the issue of Windrush as a result of our work inside and outside Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre to get it and all detention centres shut down. In the course of that work, in April 2018, not long after the Windrush scandal broke into public consciousness, we met two women detained there, Yvonne Smith and Yvonne Williams. Aged 63 and 59, these Jamaican grandmothers have extensive British families, who came to the UK as part of the Windrush Generation; they themselves did not come to the UK until the death of their grandparents in Jamaica in the late 1990’s/00’s. They had been held in Yarl’s Wood for almost nine months when we met, separated from their families, including their children, British born grandchildren and elderly Windrush Generation parents. Trying to regularise their stay for almost 20 years, every time the Home Office told them that their family ties were not “significant” enough.
  • That’s when we realised, despite their being so intimately connected to the Windrush generation, these two ‘children of Windrush’ were not recognised as part of that generation by the Government and so were not being catered for as part of the measures to support people, the Windrush Scheme and Taskforce. Both women were given removal directions on a charter flight to Jamaica.[1] Thankfully, because of the publicity[2] about their cases, they were both released, but remain at risk of detention and removal.
  • Since then we have met many more people who fall into the category of ‘not quite’ Windrush according to the government, but who all have Windrush generation families and who are part of the interconnected web of family connections of this important generation.
  • We have included anonymised case histories in appendix A for these ‘Widen Windrush’ Cases. Three of these people have submitted applications to the Windrush Inquiry. Yvonne Smith, whose application was the first to be submitted on 25th June 2018, is still waiting for a decision 15 weeks later; none of the other 3 has yet received a decision.

The Windrush Generation – an inspiring legacy of struggle

  • The ‘Windrush Generation’ from across the Commonwealth were actively recruited, invited to come to the UK. Young, ambitious and talented people from across the commonwealth made the journey, seeing opportunity to secure their families futures and the future of their descendants. It was not an easy process, people faced great hardship, racial discrimination, violence and the pain of leaving children behind. Many managed to raise the money needed to bring all of their children to the UK but many did not, and some children stayed in their home countries with a grandparent or aunt.
  • Family life developed across countries and continents, parents sending back money, cards and gifts for their children. For some of the Windrush children who did not make it to Britain, their parents only made enough money to get home to visit when they were in their late teens or twenties because of the meagre amount they earned in Britain’s public services and factories. Arthur Curling, who arrived on the Empire Windrush summed up this difficulty “England was the easiest country to get in to and the hardest country to get out of, for the mere fact is, if you working, you never earn enough money for your fare, but at the same time you always say you always have another 10 year, 15-20 years”[3].
  • Some of the children left behind never saw one or both of their parents again. Windrush descendant Yvonne Smith was the youngest of her siblings at 4 years old, when they all left with her mother to join their father in the UK; one year her mother died. The family could not afford to bring her mothers body home to Jamaica, or to bring Yvonne or her grandmother to the UK for the funeral. Her mother died ‘rebuilding Britain’ and yet in the eyes of the Home Office Yvonne Smith does not have ‘significant family ties’ and remains at risk of detention and removal.
  • Windrush Generation families spread throughout every sector of British society, building and strengthening our pubic services and enriching our communities. Through their battle against racism they initiated sweeping changes to Britain’s equalities legislation. They joined the British working class, broke down barriers, fought racism in the unions and became an integral part of working class history and British history.
  • They are the Bristol Bus Boycotters, the Grunwick Strikers, the Civil Rights activists of the 60’s & 70’s; their children fought racist SUS laws, police brutality and, over generations, have shaped far-reaching British Equality legislation that has benefitted all sectors of society. If Britain is to do justice to this pivotal section of British society it requires more than an apology and a few passports issued. It requires deep and far reaching investigation, radical legislative change and real justice for that generation, all of their descendants and their families.

[1] The Independent, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/windrush-deportations-jamaica-charter-flight-immigration-detention-grandmother-a8328461.html

[2] Channel 4 News https://www.channel4.com/news/grandmother-child-of-the-windrush-told-she-cant-stay-in-uk and The Independent https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/windrush-scandal-yvonne-williams-immigrants-migration-theresa-may-uk-government-a8320401.html

[3] BBC Website, testimonies from Windrush Arrivals, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/arrival_01.shtml

VIEW AND DOWNLOAD OUR FULL SUBMISSION HERE

Windrush-Lessons-Learned-Review_FINAL-EDIT

lambeth Says “Apology NOT Accepted” time to #WidenWindrush

Lambeth Council to hear motion on #WidenWindrush campaign on 10 Sept 2018. Justice for the Windrush Generation and ALL their descendants & families – End the Hostile Environment!

On 10th October Lambeth Council will be voting on a motion submitted by Green Party Councillors and supported by Labour Councillors  on Windrush and the governments Hostile Environment.

MFJ will be lobbying and speaking at the Council meeting making the case for the importance of expanding the Governments Windrush Scheme to include the descendants and families of the Windrush Generation. This follows on from MFJ’s March through Brixton on 8th September which heard from so many of the Windrush Generation, their descendants and family members, many still at risk of detention & removal, the Scheme MUST be widened!

Text Of Motion (download here):

Council notes that:

Lambeth residents are part of the historic struggle for equality in this country and that those of the Commonwealth diaspora – the Windrush generation, their descendants and families – have played a crucial role in shaping our borough. Our diversity makes us strong, and is to be celebrated.

The Windrush scandal has brought to prominence the Government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy which is having a terrible impact on many Lambeth residents. Detaining and deporting members of the Windrush Generation and their descendants is a betrayal and a shame on this government and our country. The UK’s immigration detention system is not fit for purpose and the Government must end immigration detention.  Anyone whose grandparents and parents are here has the right to reunite with their family.

Despite the Government’s apology for the Windrush scandal many of the Windrush generation, their descendants and families are still suffering great hardship. Children, grandchildren and family members from Commonwealth countries who joined their families in the UK after 1st January 1973 are still facing detention and deportation. They have not been included in the Government’s apologies or measures to put right this wrong.

Despite the establishment of the Government’s Windrush taskforce Windrush citizens are still being forced to wait months for their immigration cases to be resolved despite a government pledge to process them in two weeks.  The Home Office’s response is chaotic and is forcing people into distress and destitution.

 

41312861_2319994241360760_5942983553561133056_nCouncil believes that:

It is unacceptable that older members of the Windrush generation are spending their last years alone in care homes because their own children and grandchildren are not allowed back into the country, or that families continue to be separated as a consequence of racist immigration policies.

It is unacceptable that those who have lived and worked here for decades are the subject of immigration raids and harassment.  Those who work in our hospitals, schools and other parts of the public sector should not be made into border guards in sweeping measures that have criminalised entire communities.

It is unacceptable that people have to go through all of the bureaucratic processes of different departments such the Department for Work and Pensions and Home Office, to get their lives back on track.

No one from the Windrush Generation, their descendants or families should be charged additional fees for naturalisation or passport applications. Additional hardship payments should be issued to those who need them.

Council will:

(i)  Support the campaign calling for the government to widen the Windrush Scheme (#WidenWindrush) to include descendants and family members who came to the UK after 1st January 1973, publicise the legal challenge to the discrimination against Windrush descendants who arrived after that date, and call on MPs and other Councils to support this campaign.

(ii)  Support the call for fees for naturalisation to be waived for all those who have been affected; call on the Prime Minister to commission a public inquiry into the Windrush scandal; actively campaign for an end to the ‘hostile environment’ policy and indefinite detention, and oppose the criminalisation of Windrush families.

(iii)   Call on the Government to ensure that the Windrush taskforce becomes a ‘one stop shop’ for the Windrush Generation, their descendants and families. That would mean that in one place people would not only get their residence permit but also their British passport and their welfare benefits/pensions reinstated.

(iv)  Set up a working group that will explore the impact of immigration policies on Lambeth residents who are members, descendants or close family members of the Windrush generation, champion and secure their rights, and come forward with proposals to ensure Lambeth residents do not continue to suffer from the Hostile Environment policy.

(v)  Review the Council’s policies and procedures to ensure the Council supports those affected to the fullest extent possible, including fully supporting advice agencies and local community organisations in Lambeth in their work to achieve justice for all Lambeth residents of the Windrush generation.

vi) Endorse the ‘These Walls Must Fall’ Campaign

vii) Call on the Government to implement the recommendations of the Joint Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees & the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom.

viii) Ask Lambeth MPs to raise these matters in the House of Commons, and support alternatives to immigration detention.

ix) Seek further support for this motion via the Local Government Association, and by encouraging other Councils in the UK to show their support.

March moving landscape

Extend the ‘Windrush Scheme’, time for UK govt to right a historic wrong

Windrush Descendants and Windrush families – Let them ALL Stay! Parliamentary Campaign Launch

Tuesday 17th July, 6pm, Committee Room 11, Houses of Parliament (Register)

Windrush Descendants Briefing

Facilitated by Janet Daby MP, herself a child of Windrush generation parents, alongside David Lammy MP who has been at the forefront of the fight for the Windrush Generation – this meeting will launch Movement for Justice’s campaign to expand the Government’s ‘Windrush Scheme’, and act in this crucial moment to bring an end to a historic wrong. At present, many descendants of the Windrush Generation remain at risk of detention and removal: children, grandchildren and close family members who came to the UK as adults after 1973.

Windrush Descendants Launch.jpg
Windrush Descendants & Families, L-R: Yvonne Williams, Yvonne Smith, Jennifer Ulett-Hall & Charmaine Simpson

Hear from two of those descendants at risk, Yvonne Smith and Yvonne Williams, Jamaican grandmothers detained in Yarl’s Wood for 9 months who have been fighting for the right to stay with their extensive British families for almost 20 years. Despite being the children of Windrush Generation immigrants, they do not fit into the governments ‘Windrush Scheme’ because they came to the UK as adults after 1973. Thousands of people are being turned away from the governments Windrush Taskforce because they do not fit the narrow criteria which is defined by immigration laws passed in the 60’s and 70’s; blatantly discriminatory laws designed to stop further black and Asian immigration from Commonwealth countries whilst still allowing many white people from the Commonwealth the right to British citizenship.

Grace Brown, Barrister Garden Court Chambers (also a child of Windrush generation parents) and Vinita Templeton, Director of Immigration & Public Law at Duncan Lewis Cardiff will speak about the legal campaign to extend the right to stay to the descendants and families of the Windrush Generation, to put right an historic injustice.

What are we calling for?

  1. Amend the Windrush Scheme to add a sub category, which covers adult children, grandchildren and other close family members of the Windrush Generation, people who came to the UK after 1973 as adults and so are not currently covered in the Scheme.
  2. A public Inquiry to investigate the historic injustice done to black and Asian Commonwealth Citizens by the racial discrimination embedded in British Nationality and Immigration legislation from 1962 to 1981. For a far reaching review of British Immigration and Nationality legislation and its compatibility with the Equality Act and Human Rights legislation.
  3. For the widening of family reunion rules to allow for the reunion of adult children with their parents in the UK and the reunion of parents with their adult children in the UK.

Britain’s Broken Promise to the Windrush Generation – time to make good!

In 1948 The British Nationality act was passed, it conferred a shared citizenship status for everyone in Britain and its colonies (Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies), all Commonwealth citizens (including those who gained independence) had the right to enter the UK free from immigration control. That same year the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks, the symbolic beginning of large-scale immigration from Commonwealth countries to the UK. People were actively recruited from the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia to ‘rebuild Britain’ in the post war boom period. The Evening standard welcomed the arrival of the Empire Windrush with the headline “Welcome Home”. For many who arrived it was not the first time they had come to the aid of Britain, they had served as soldiers in the II World War. In return for (once again) coming to the Britain’s aid, Commonwealth Citizens were promised equality of opportunity, fair treatment, work and a home in the ‘Motherland’. Citizens of the Commonwealth kept their side of the promise despite great hardship. 14 short years later Britain began the process of breaking that promise with the 1962 Commonwealth Act, which began the process of restricting Commonwealth immigration creating second-class citizen status for those not born in the UK.

The European Human Rights Commission in 1973 found that the Commonwealth Immigration Act of 1968 was racially discriminatory in East African Asians case.  The 1971 Immigration Act maintained this racial discrimination by introducing concept of ‘patrials’, which benefited white commonwealth citizens over black and Asian Commonwealth citizens. It enabled those who were British Citizens by birth in the UK to pass on their citizenship to children and grandchildren. This excluded children of the vast majority of Windrush generation arrivals from African, Caribbean and Asian countries who were British Citizens (CUKC) not born in Britain. Though the ‘No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish’ signs were made illegal by the 1968 Race Relations Act, the Immigration Act passed in the same year effectively relocated those signs to the UK border.

Border Cartoon Final Final

The 1971 Act and its predecessor the 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants Act are widely recognised to be racially discriminatory in practice. At the time of their passage both politicians and campaigners challenged the racism of the Acts.

The 1968 and 1971 Acts created a second class citizenship for those British Citizens who were not born in the UK, one they could not pass on to the children who they had to leave behind when they travelled to the UK.

The ‘Windrush Generation’ from across the Commonwealth were actively recruited, invited to come to the UK. Young, ambitious and talented people from across the commonwealth made the journey, seeing opportunity to secure their families futures and the future of their descendants. It was not an easy process, people faced great hardship, racial discrimination, violence and the pain of leaving children behind. Many managed to raise the money needed to bring all of their children to the UK but many did not, and some children stayed in their home countries with a grandparent or aunt. Family life developed across countries and continents, parents sending back money, cards and gifts for their children. For some of the Windrush children who did not make it to Britain, their parents only made enough money to get home to visit when they were in their late teens or twenties because of the meagre amount they earned in Britain’s public services and factories. Arthur Curling, who arrived on the Empire Windrush summed up this difficulty “England was the easiest country to get in to and the hardest country to get out of, for the mere fact is, if you working, you never earn enough money for your fare, but at the same time you always say you always have another 10 year, 15-20 years”. Some of the children left behind never saw one or both of their parents again, like Windrush descendant Yvonne Smith who was the youngest of her siblings at 4 years old when they all left with her mother to join their father in the UK; after just one year her mother died. The family could not afford to bring her body home to Jamaica, or to bring Yvonne or her grandmother to the UK for the funeral.

That these families to this day are subject to the constant stress and expense of fighting for the right of their loved ones to stay, as the result of racially discriminatory immigration laws of the 60’s and 70’s which excluded them, is a grave historic injustice. The debt owed to the Windrush Generation must finally be paid, the promise Britain made acted upon.

Government in Crisis over Racism – Bring It Down!

Windrush exposes truth of racism at heart of immigration law. Build the movement to reverse racist immigration laws. AMNESTY for ALL immigrants without papers.

Amnesty Now!

The Windrush generation who moved to Britain in the 1950’s and 60’s are regarded by almost everyone as an intrinsic part of British society. Their generation re-built Britain after the war, the health service, the railroads, drove the buses. Making their lives in Britain meant pushing back against the racist attacks and ‘Keep Britain White’ campaigns of the time. To be told after all these years, by the government’s Home Office, that they ‘don’t belong here’ was an overreach that has exposed the racism at the heart of immigration policy to millions of people. As a result Theresa May’s already struggling government has been left vulnerable on three fronts. Firstly the whole policy of attacking immigrants is vulnerable, in particular Theresa May’s defining policy of ‘hostile environment’. Secondly, Brexit is vulnerable. And thirdly, the crisis-ridden government is vulnerable, and it can be brought down. To stop the attacks on immigrants it is necessary to unite all of those under attack from this government.

Continue reading “Government in Crisis over Racism – Bring It Down!”