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LABOUR slammed the government today after it admitted that a number of British-Caribbean citizens of the Windrush generation have been wrongly deported — but didn’t know how many.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said it is “an absolute scandal” that the Home Office has no idea how many people with a right to remain in Britain had been deported “in error.”
Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy had tabled an urgent question in the Commons in which he pressed Home Secretary Amber Rudd to explain how many Commonwealth-born citizens have been deported, detained and denied free NHS healthcare.
“This is a day of national shame that has come about because of the government’s hostile environment and far-right rhetoric,” he said.
Ms Rudd was jeered when she admitted that the government had been “too concerned with policy and strategy — and not the individual.”
She promised MPs that a new taskforce would be set up to help resolve these immigration cases within two weeks, when evidence was provided, and that no individuals affected would be out of pocket.
Before Mr Lammy’s question, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes confirmed that some people had been wrongly deported — but she did not know how many people were affected.
Ms Abbott said: “Theresa May must apologise for this mess, which has taken place as a direct consequence of the hostile environment she created.
“As home secretary she removed the rules protecting Commonwealth citizens, and as prime minister she has completely ignored the issue.
“The Windrush generation must have their rights as British citizens confirmed, any who have been deported must be invited back to the UK immediately — and those who oversaw their deportations must be held to account.”
Labour has arranged a public meeting with affected members of the Windrush generation on Thursday. Ms Abbott, who called the meeting, said the treatment of people, some of whom who have lived in Britain since the 1950s, is “scandalous.”
She added: “Many came here as children, their parents invited to the UK to work. They have been here decades, worked and paid taxes, set down roots and created families of their own. This is their home. But the government is treating them as illegal aliens.”
And Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said he has written to the Home Secretary over the legal status of British-Caribbean citizens, citing the case of Albert Thompson, who has lived in Britain for 44 years but was told to pay £54,000 for prostate cancer treatment.
Mr Prentis reiterated that the Windrush had arrived in Tilbury with 492 Commonwealth citizens in 1948, just two weeks before the NHS was established, and its passengers and their successors helped rebuild Britain after WWII.
In an apparent U-turn, Ms May confirmed today that she would meet Caribbean representatives this week to discuss the immigration problems. Downing Street had initially rejected a formal diplomatic request from the 12 countries, whose leaders are in London for this week’s Commonwealth heads of government meeting.
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