Last week, David Lammy MP spoke powerfully in Parliament and brought the issue of the ‘Windrush’ generation to the attention of the country.
Recent change in our laws has seen the children who travelled with their parents during the Windrush years being threatened with deportation and refused rights to live in the country of their youth, family, memories and home.
These are the children of workers who were invited to the UK from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, as a response to post-war labour shortages in the UK.
MV Empire Windrush was the first ship that brought these people to Britain, and so the ship’s name was used to describe this large group of immigrants.
The influx ended in 1971, when Common-wealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain.
Those who lacked documents following this law change are now being told they need evidence to continue working, to get treatment from the NHS or even to remain in the UK.
Public exposure to this scandal saw the Government respond with horror and ministers announce that members of the Windrush generation who arrived in the UK before 1973 will be eligible for free citizenship.
When David Lammy said ‘when you lay down with dogs, you get fleas’, little did I expect that I would be approached by a Bassetlaw resident who has been caught up in this turmoil that actually goes back much further than recent times.
Aged 13, he joined his parents in this country in 1963 and travelled here using his British passport.
When he came to renew his passport in 1998 he found that his right to a British passport had been removed in 1978 when his country of birth, Dominica, was granted independence from the UK. Over the years he has tried and failed to overturn this ruling.
This is a deeply sad and disturbing situation and I will stand by all Bassetlaw Windrush residents who have been made exiles in the country where they have lived most of their lives. Contact my office on 01909 506200 if this affects you or a family member.