Pride magazine has today carried an opinion piece from the Home Secretary on the immigration status of the Windrush generation.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd
In the decades after the Second World War, many thousands of people came from across the Commonwealth to rebuild this nation and set it on its way to becoming the vibrant, diverse society it is today. They are a fundamental part of the fabric of this country and we owe them a great debt. Their right to be here is not in doubt and frankly should never have been.
This is why last week I made a heartfelt apology to all those living in the UK who had inadvertently been affected by the efforts, stretching back years, to tackle illegal immigration. It is abundantly clear that everyone considers people who came in the Windrush generation to be British. But under the current rules this is not legally the case.
This was a failure stretching back many years, to ensure that these individuals have the documentation they need.
It is my department’s responsibility to right this wrong.
It was with this sentiment that I announced yesterday that anyone from the Commonwealth, who came here before 1973 can now apply to become a British citizen for free. The same offer is also available to the children of that generation. Furthermore, we will ensure that those who have spent most of their lives here and retired in their country of origin will be able to return to the UK – again at no extra cost.
The people processing these applications will be the dedicated members of the special taskforce that I established to make the immediate arrangements to help people confirm their status. As I write, 9 cases have been successfully resolved and we have made a further 84 appointments to issue documents.
On Monday, I paid a visit to members of this team in Croydon. As part of that visit, I also had the opportunity to meet someone who was having their application processed. It was a profoundly humbling experience and the personal stories that we have heard are deeply distressing. As the Prime Minister said last week, it is only right that we consider compensation for these people who have suffered by not having the correct documentation through no fault of their own. This is the right thing to do and I will be appointing an independent advisor to oversee the development of this scheme.
It is clear that we have much to do to rebuild the trust of these communities but I hope these measures provide much needed reassurance and demonstrate our commitment to getting this right.”