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.