I have been considering the Windrush story. Basically, the British Government asked citizens form the West Indies to come to the UK to help rebuild the country after the war. They arrived to a sickening racist welcome, they brought their children, settled, married and started families. In 1972, the then Tory Government removed the right of Commonwealth citizens to arrive and stay with “indefinite right to remain”. In 2010, Theresa May became Home Secretary with the target of reducing net migration to 10,000’s, and passed two immigration acts, the 2nd of which legitimised a hostile environment including the racist “go home” vans. In addition, it made employers, landlords and horrendously teachers and hospital workers adjuncts of the immigration service. It also produced a duty to prove status i.e. they abolished innocent until proven guilty. In late 2010, the Home Office in a building move destroyed the immigration records of the Commonwealth Citizens which left many of their children in an undocumented state. They became unable to prove their rights of residency and in some cases have lost their jobs and access to benefits. Some have been illegally deported; Under Amber Rudd, May’s successor, the Home Office also set targets for deportations; Parliament is now rowing about the facts.

People that have lived here all their lives are being denied benefits, medical treatment, being fired and deported. It’s just not right.

I have, with comrades being campaigning to ensure that my local council does not support the hostile environment and not work with 3rd sector organisations that co-operate with the Home Office in this area of enforcement. Lewisham Labour’s Council Manifesto states,

Lewisham will become a Sanctuary Borough, protecting the rights of all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

There is a problem for Labour though, only 6 MPs voted against the Immigration Act 2014 which introduced the “hostile environment” and revoked innocent until proved guilty for the purposes of immigration law. It’s an example where the clock has turned, and I followed the whip is no longer a good enough excuse. Public officials must always consider what’s right, not the line, nor electoral success.

My final comment is about the new Data Protection Act. They are proposing that immigration record processing is exempted from the DPA. This means that proving a right to remain will become almost impossible as the organisation responsible for keeping records does not have to issue subject matter access requests and an effective defence, a proof of rights becomes impossible. We should also note that the Tory’s abolished legal aid for immigration cases and if we leave the EU, we may increase the numbers of those vulnerable to this appalling treatment by two factors of magnitude.

Many of the fact quoted above come from this article at freemovement.org.

Innocent until proved guilty: Revoked
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