Victims of the Tories’ hostile environment policies tell Glastonbury of their pain

From the Morning Star: Victims of the Tory Government’s hostile environment spoke at the Glastonbury Festival about the impact of losing their jobs and being separated from their partners.
Windrush scandal victim Michael Braithwaite, who arrived in Britain from Barbados in 1961, worked as a special needs teaching assistant but lost his job after being deemed an illegal immigrant. Speaking at Glastonbury Festival’s Left Field stage, he said: “My reputation as a teaching assistant was in tatters. I was in a bad mental state. I didn’t know who to trust.” Mr Braithwaite was told he needed to apply for a biometric card or face deportation, but was refused one three times.
Mr Braithwaite called for Britain’s colonial history to be taught in schools, a policy Labour would introduce under leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Laura Clarke also told the Hostile Environment — Who’s Responsible? debate of her plight being separated from her Ethiopian husband with whom she has a three-year-old son. The government’s minimum income requirement requires couples to earn at least £18,600 a year combined to be eligible for a family visa. However as a single mother and as a teacher in Ethiopia, they both earn less. She said: “My husband has only spent six months out of those three years with our son because of the government’s immigration rules. The government’s hostile environment is literally telling us and thousands of others that we are too poor to be together.”

Javid under fire over ‘illegal’ cross-Channel asylum seekers claim

From The Guardian: Lawyers and campaigners have criticised Sajid Javid after the home secretary appeared to suggest asylum seekers should be deterred from crossing the Channel in small boats by making it harder to gain asylum, a right enshrined in international law.

The Refugee Council called the comments “deeply concerning” and said the suggestion of denying asylum was unlawful. The criticism was echoed by the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, who called the comments “a disgrace”. […]

Colin Yeo, a leading immigration and asylum barrister at Garden Court chambers, said the home secretary’s apparent threat was illegal. “Sending genuine refugees to face persecution in order to dissuade others from seeking to come here is plainly illegal,” he told the Guardian.

“I imagine the home secretary knows this, but if so it is depressing that he is still saying it as a way of trying to make himself sound tough. The latest asylum statistics show that around three-quarters of Iranian asylum claims succeed, so we are talking here about genuine refugees.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

BAME activists announce Windrush National Day of Action to hold Tories to their promises

From Morning Star: A Windrush National Day of Action will be held next year to press the Tory government to fulfil its pledges to Commonwealth-born British citizens who have suffered as a result of heavy-handed immigration policies.

The day will coincide with the United Nations International Day for Social Justice on Saturday February 23, it was announced at the second national Windrush conference that was held over the weekend.

Windrush action groups have demanded a public inquiry into the Windrush scandal that saw the government being forced to apologise after British citizens were deported, detained and threatened with removal, as well as losing their jobs, benefits and right to use the NHS.

Chair of the conference David Weaver said: “The government needs to recognise the anger, tragedy and despair caused by this unprecedented and gross violation of black British citizens’ human rights.

“This conference puts the government on notice that victims will not be silenced or intimidated by the racism they’ve faced. On the contrary, both Windrush victims and the country at large are rightly appalled at the treatment they’ve been forced to endure.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

164 Windrush generation people may have been wrongly removed or detained

From The Guardian: A total of 164 Windrush generation people may have been wrongly removed or detained, according to detailed analysis by the Home Office of almost 12,000 immigration cases.

The home secretary has said he will apologise to 18 Windrush people who the government believes were “most likely to have suffered detriment because their right to be in the UK was not recognised”. The narrowness of the official apology was immediately condemned as worrying by Amnesty.

A review of 11,800 cases identified 18 where the home secretary said he believed his “department is most likely to have acted wrongfully”. Eleven of those 18 voluntarily left the country, some having been served with enforcement papers informing them they had no right to be in the UK; seven of them were detained but subsequently released without being removed.

In each of those cases the individual is believed to have come from the Caribbean before 1973 and stayed in Britain permanently but they were unable to prove they were a permanent resident.

However, the Home Office acknowledged that it was looking at 164 cases where people had been either wrongly detained, forcibly removed from the country or mistakenly told they must leave the country. Officials said the precise circumstances in which some of the 164 had been detained or encouraged to leave were not yet known, which they said is why official apologies were only being made to 18 people for the moment.

Anthony Bryan, 60, who spent five weeks in immigration removal centres over the past two years despite having lived in the UK for more than half a century, said he had yet to receive a letter of apology from the home secretary.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Families torn apart as visa misery hits foreign spouses

From The Observer: On 17 December last year, Paige Smith stood on a bridge above a road in north London. “I don’t remember too much, just standing there, looking over the edge, thinking ‘I’m just going to jump’, but then two police officers – I don’t know where they came from – managed to talk me down.”

Smith, 24, had been left suicidal by the Kafkaesque nightmare in which she and her Albanian fiance, Fatjon Ballmi, 23, had found themselves since becoming engaged.

Last September, having been together for nearly three years, they applied for a fiance visa for Ballmi but, two months later, the Home Office refused, stating, incorrectly, that Smith did not meet the £18,600 income threshold necessary to bring her partner into the country, a requirement introduced in 2012 by Theresa May, who was then home secretary.

“We never expected a refusal and I took it quite badly,” Smith said. “I was suffering mentally, having been away from my fiance for 11 weeks in total and I tried to commit suicide. I was sectioned, taken to hospital and stayed there for just under 24 hours before they let me go.”

The Home Office had lost a crucial payslip proving that Smith met the criteria. “The payslip was sent to them four times including from my solicitor and MP. The joke of it is they had my bank statements and access to HMRC to see how much I get paid.”

An appeal judge took less than 10 minutes in June to rule that the visa should be issued. The Home Office took another two months to confirm that it would not appeal.

Read more

Responsibility for Windrush deportations rests “squarely on Theresa May’s shoulders” – Caroline Lucas

From Morning Star: Responsibility for the Windrush scandal falls “squarely on the shoulders” of Theresa May for ignoring a report warning her what would happen, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas charged yesterday.

The Brighton Pavilion MP had tabled a written question asking if Ms May, as home secretary, had acted on the Legal Action Group’s prescient October 2014 report Chasing Status.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes responded: ”No specific action was taken as a result of this report.”

The report recommended a number of measures which could have prevented the Windrush scandal, including to set up a special unit to fast-track cases of people living in Britain on January 1 1973.

It also called for the restoration of legal aid for these cases, allowing Commonwealth-born citizens to work, access the the NHS and claim benefits and for Home Office proof of residence standards to be revised.

Another of the report’s recommendations was for “greater openness” from the Home Office about its archiving and destruction policies, and for it to accept that some immigration records could be rendered inaccurate or incomplete over time.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

MPs condemn Home Office over detained Windrush pair

From The Guardian: The Home Office behaved in a “shocking” manner towards two Windrush citizens, Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan, both of whom were wrongly sent to immigration detention centres before a planned removal from the UK, despite being continuously resident for around 50 years, a committee of MPs and peers has ruled.

The Home Office displayed an “inadequate regard for the human rights” of those wrongly detained as a result of immigration enforcement, the report by the joint committee on human rights concluded.

Harriet Harman, the committee’s chair, said: “What happened to these two people was a total violation of their human rights by the state’s most powerful government department. It needs to face up to what happened before it can even begin to acknowledge the scale of the problem and stop it happening again.”

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Rodents, bedbugs, mould: UK asylum housing still a hostile environment

From openDemocracy: Mothers with babies in a Manchester hostel run by Serco have shown their dirty and dangerous living conditions. Carole showed a video on her phone of two mice running around her bed in the middle of the night. I could hear her frustrated voice: “I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep.” The kitchen ceiling showed evidence of water leakage from the flats above — presenting risks of electrocution and fire.

[Read full article on openDemocracy…]

The Tories’ “hostile environment” sees at least 1,000 skilled migrants wrongly facing deportation

From Morning Star: Politicians and experts have slammed the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy as at least 1,000 highly skilled migrants are wrongly facing deportation.

The specialists, who are seeking indefinite leave to remain in Britain, are being denied their right to work under a section of the Immigration Act designed to tackle terrorism and threats to national security.

Immigration experts say the highly skilled workers, who include teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and IT professionals, are being refused indefinite leave to remain because they are accused of lying in their applications, according to the Guardian.

They have come under scrutiny for making minor and legal amendments to their tax records or having discrepancies in declared income.

In one case an applicant’s tax returns were scrutinised by three different appeal courts where no evidence of irregularities was found. Basic tax errors allegedly made by the Home Office itself are also used as the basis for refusal.

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The Windrush immigration scandal, explained

From Affinity: Thousands of people residing in the UK, some for over 50 years, are now in danger of removal and deportation from the country they call home.

The Windrush Generation is characterized by immigrants from the Caribbean, namely Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, who arrived in Britain any time between 1948 and 1971 in order to provide aid and more sets of working hands during the labor shortage of World War II. Many of these Caribbean immigrants were only children aboard those ships, coming with their parents who served as nurses, road workers, bus drivers and other occupations at the request of the UK government. It was their presence that boosted the UK economy behind the scenes during World War II and later started a movement of cultural awareness and diversity in Great Britain.

An estimated 50,000 people are now facing adversity due to the fact that many of them were not naturalized to become official citizens of Britain and they may possess no legal documents confirming their residency status. Unfortunately, a great number of Windrush children traveling under their parent’s passports never sought their own passports or papers detailing their position and the year in which they arrived. This is troubling as recent immigration laws made in 2014 dictate that landlords and health services, among others, must check one’s evidence of residence before granting them services.

These policies were originally created by Prime Minister Theresa May in order to foster a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants in the U.K. Needless to say, May’s cruel technique of taking away previously existent rights from an entire generation has produced profound and abhorrent effects on the people a part of Windrush. Many who suffer from cancer and various illnesses are unable to be treated and others have developed mental health problems including depression and anxiety due to their systemic and societal treatment.

[Read full article on Affinity website…]

Amber Rudd resigns hours after Guardian publishes deportation targets letter

From The Guardian: Amber Rudd has resigned as home secretary, after repeatedly struggling to account for her role in the unjust treatment of Windrush Generation migrants.

The home secretary was forced to step down after a series of revelations in the Guardian over Windrush culminated in a leak on Friday that appeared to show she was aware of targets for removing illegal migrants from Britain.

The pressure increased late on Sunday afternoon as the Guardian revealed that in a leaked 2017 letter to Theresa May, Amber Rudd had told the prime minister of her intention to increase deportations by 10% – seemingly at odds with her recent denials that she was aware of deportation targets.

Rudd was facing a bruising appearance in the House of Commons on Monday. Downing Street sources said that in preparing for her statement, new information had become available which convinced Rudd she had inadvertently misled parliament – and she had therefore phoned the prime minister on Sunday to tender her resignation.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Amber Rudd was sent targets for migrant removal, leak reveals

From the Guardian: Amber Rudd’s insistence that she knew nothing of Home Office targets for immigration removals risks unravelling following the leak of a secret internal document prepared for her and other senior ministers.

The six-page memo, passed to the Guardian, says the department has set “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18” and boasts that “we have exceeded our target of assisted returns”.

The document was prepared by Hugh Ind, the director general of the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement agency, in June last year and copied to Rudd and Brandon Lewis, the then immigration minister, as well as several senior civil servants and special advisers.

The leak will raise questions about Rudd’s public position on what she knew about the setting of targets for the enforced removal of migrants.

The issue has become particularly toxic because of coverage of the Windrush generation – many of whom have been made destitute, homeless and denied benefits and healthcare because of the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy towards those it deems to be lacking appropriate documentation to be in the UK.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Amber Rudd urged to resign over immigrant removal targets

From The Guardian: Amber Rudd faced fresh calls to resign after admitting the Home Office set strict local targets for removing migrants who were in the UK illegally, having previously told MPs her department did not set targets.

The home secretary was hauled back in front of MPs in the House of Commons to answer an urgent question from Labour’s Diane Abbott, after Home Office documents revealed targets were set for voluntary removals.

MPs have said the targets could have led enforcement officers to target “low-hanging fruit” – people living in the UK legally but without the correct documents, like many of the Windrush generation.

Rudd said the Home Office had been “using local targets for internal performance management” but said she would review them.

“I have never agreed there should be specific removal targets and I would never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people,” she said.

“These were not published targets against which performance was assessed. But they were used inappropriately. I am clear they will have to change.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Labour MP David Lammy: My constituent arrived from Jamaica in 1964 aged 6. Now he’s received notice of deportation

Labour MP David Lammy writes on Facebook: “I am disgusted and appalled by the case I have just received. My constituent arrived from Jamaica in 1964 aged 6. He has shown me his letter from the Home Office telling him that he will be deported despite having a National Insurance card from 1974 & NHS documentation from 1964.

“The Home Secretary and the Immigration Minister you must sort this today. Why is my constituent being treated like an illegal immigrant despite providing documentation from 1964? This is an outrageous miscarriage of justice. Grant him his citizenship and passport.

“I have had 6 Windrush cases come in this morning already at it is only half past 11. Each case is heartbreaking and an utterly shameful indictment of this government. I am so angry at the way my constituents have been treated. The scale of this crisis is absolutely unfathomable.”

I am disgusted and appalled by the case I have just received. My constituent arrived from Jamaica in 1964 aged 6. He has…

Posted by David Lammy on Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Theresa May: “We can deport first and hear appeals later”

From The London Economic: A leaked transcript from 2013 has revealed a shocking admission from Theresa May about the handling of immigrants in the UK.

The government has come under a barrage of criticism following revelations about the Windrush Generation.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said it is “an absolute scandal that the Home Office doesn’t even know how many people they have wrongly deported”, adding that the Prime Minister is directly responsible for creating a hostile environment as Home Secretary which has contributed to the current crisis.

A transcript from Tuesday 22 October 2013, leaked by Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council Miqdaad Versi, shows how the current turmoil may have come to be.

In a House of Commons debate, Mrs May said: “We will extend the number of non-suspensive appeals so that, where there is no risk of serious and irreversible harm, we can deport first and hear appeals later.”

[Read full article on The London Economic…]

Grime artist Marci Phonix tells Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng he’s “talking nonsense” over Windrush

From Channel 4 News: Grime artist Marci Phonix tells Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng on Channel 4 News, “Mate, you’re talking nonsense, you know you’re talking nonsense” over the Windrush scandal.

Marci Phonix and Kwasi Kwarteng on the Windrush controversy

“You don't represent the same people I represent. You would not know and you don't care."Grime artist Marci Phonix and Conservative MP and historian Kwasi Kwarteng discuss the Windrush controversy.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Thursday, April 19, 2018


Tearful Windrush migrant ‘barred from his mum’s funeral’ and 3 other heartbreaking stories

From Daily Mirror: A tearful man who arrived in Britain in 1958 has told how he was barred from attending his mum’s funeral in the UK. Junior Green’s story is one of a string of heartbreaking cases shared by the ‘Windrush generation’ today as pressure mounts on the government.

[Read article on Mirror website…]

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