British minister apologises to 18 members of Windrush generation

Sajid Javid said the experiences faced by some of the Windrush generation were “completely unacceptable”

FILE - In this file photo dated Tuesday, May 1, 2018, Britain's newly appointed Home Secretary Sajid Javid arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London.  The British government has apologized to 18 long-term U.K. residents from the Caribbean who were deported or detained because they could not produce documents to prove their right to live in the country, with Home Secretary Javid saying their treatment was "completely unacceptable," and has issued a personal apology, Tuesday Aug. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, FILE)

British home secretary Sajid Javid has issued an apology to 18 members of the Windrush generation after a review found they may have been wrongly detained or removed from the country.

“I would like to personally apologise to those identified in our review and am committed to providing them with the support and compensation they deserve,” Mr Javid said.

The minister said a review of 11,800 cases of removal and detention had found 11 of the 18 people the apology was addressed to had voluntarily left the UK and seven were detained but later released.

The Home Office said any of the 18 who were not currently living in the UK had the right to return with support from the government’s Windrush taskforce.

Fourteen of their number have been contacted by the government so far; the department says it is trying to reach the remaining four.

In Tuesday’s apology, Mr Javid said: “The experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation are completely unacceptable and I am committed to righting the wrongs of the past.

He also confirmed he has asked an independent adviser to look into what went wrong in the government’s handling of the Windrush generation’s immigration status.

The UK’s Conservative government was shamed by numerous media reports detailing the plight of individual members of the Windrush generation and their families, who had lost jobs, been denied access to healthcare, been forced to leave the UK or were detained by the Home Office.

Many blamed the government’s hostile environment policy and destruction of landing cards between 2009 and 2010 for exacerbating the problem.

The Windrush generation, so-called after the ship Empire Windrush, are a group of people who migrated to the UK from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971 to fill an employment shortage.

The 1971 Immigration Act gave these people, and other emigrants from the Commonwealth, indefinite leave to remain in the UK. However, individual records were not created for each person, making it difficult to prove their right to be in the country today.

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Mr Javid’s predecessor Amber Rudd resigned in the wake of the Windrush scandal. On taking up the role of home secretary,  Mr Javid said his “most urgent task” was to fix the crisis and ensure those affected by it were treated with respect.

Labour Party MP David Lammy, whose parents came to the UK as part of the Windrush generation, called the apology “crocodile tears and an insult to people still not given hardship fund, left jobless, homeless and unable to afford food”.

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