16 Aug The Windrush Generation
Who is the Windrush generation?
The Windrush generation refers to the half a million people who came to the UK from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971. The name is a reference to one particular ship, MV Empire Windrush, which transported almost 500 passengers to the UK’s shores with the aim of meeting post-war worker shortages. Many of the people aboard the ship were children.
The influx from the Caribbean ended in 1971 with the 1971 Immigration Act, which gave Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK indefinite leave to remain in the country.
Exactly how many people belong to the Windrush generation is unclear. Many people who came over in the 23-year period arrived as children, travelled on a parents passport, and never had travel documents.
Why are the Windrush generation being deported?
In 2012, under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, the Hostile Environment policy came into place. The policy aimed to make life as difficult as possible for immigrants living in the UK without leave to remain, hoping that they would leave voluntarily.
The policy was spearheaded by Theresa May, who was Home Secretary at the time. It enforced ID checks by the NHS, landlords, banks, etc. and instructed them to refuse their services if anyone was unable to prove residency in the UK.
The policy meant that landlords and business owners who did not comply would be faced with fines of up to £10,000.
From 2013, people of the Windrush generation started to receive letters claiming that they had no right to be in the UK. Before long, some people of the Windrush generation were now being treated as ‘illegal immigrants’ and started to lose their jobs, homes, benefits and access to the NHS. Some were placed in immigration detention, deported, or being refused the right to return from abroad.