Today’s Home Office top stories are on an online petition set up calling for an immigration amnesty for anyone who arrived in the UK as a child between 1948 and 1971, and on a Migration Observatory report on the EU settlement scheme.
Commonwealth citizens petition
The Independent reports that Commonwealth citizens who have lived in Britain for decades after arriving as children are being made “destitute and stateless” due to the Government’s Immigration policies.
It says the warning comes from politicians and diplomats such as the High Commissioner for Barbados to the UK, Guy Hewitt and Labour MP David Lammy . The paper reports that a meeting at the Jamaican High Commission today will demand that ministers provide an immediate remedy for a “developing situation” in which, due to changes in the immigration system, Caribbean immigrants are being deemed “illegal immigrants”. Mr Hewitt and Mr Lammy, are urging the Government to “affirm the rights of those who have lived here for decades”.
The paper says it follows cases in recent months which have emerged, whereby Caribbean nationals who came to Britain between 1948 and 1973 with the “Windrush” generation are being denied access to NHS healthcare, losing their jobs and being threatened with deportation. The paper notes the cases of Albert Thompson, Michael Braithwaite, and Paulette Wilson. A Home Office response can be found below.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
We value the contribution made by former-Commonwealth citizens who have made a life in the UK.
We want to assure individuals who have resided in the UK for an extended period but feel they may not have the correct documentation confirming their status that there are existing solutions available. They should take legal advice and submit the appropriate application with correct evidence so we can progress the case.
We have no intention of making people leave who have the right to remain here. When the Home Office is made aware of cases of this nature, we will make sure the applications are dealt in a sensitive way.
Migration Observatory report
The Times, Independent and Radio 4’s Today Programme report that thousands of EU citizens could inadvertently become illegal residents in the UK after Brexit, according to a report, from the Migration Observatory. They warn that domestic abuse victims, children and the elderly are among those at risk of losing their right to remain in Britain despite meeting the required criteria to stay. The papers say this is because they could struggle to provide documentation and complete a registration process, or do not realise they need to apply to continue living in the UK legally. A quote from Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford is carried in the Independent and Times in which she says that while “most EU citizens should be able to sail through a simplified application process with little difficulty” a minority of people will find it more difficult who are already society’s most vulnerable”.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
Throughout the negotiations, it’s been our priority to secure the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and in December we reached an agreement with the EU that does this. Away from the negotiations, we have been working hard to build a new, simple digital application system for settled status and drawing up the rules that will underpin it.
We are well aware of the challenges of ensuring that three million EU citizens and their family members living here understand the need to apply and have the ability to. That is why we have already launched a national awareness campaign, are holding monthly meetings with EU citizens’ representatives to understand their needs and are planning a range of support for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children and families, victims of domestic violence and those with English as a second language.
We will be setting out further details before the summer and EU citizens will have plenty of time to make an application. But we have also been clear that we will exercise discretion if there are good reasons why someone has not been able to make an application before the June 2021 deadline.