Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain. (Source: REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File)
As many as 93 Indians have been caught up in the UK’s ‘Windrush’ immigration scandal as the UK government today released latest figures of Commonwealth nationals caught up in the row over their citizenship rights.
The true scale of Indians affected by the Windrush scandal emerged as 93 Indian nationals have been provided with documentation to formalise their rights to live and work in the UK by an emergency taskforce set up by the UK Home Office to deal with cases of migrants who arrived in the UK before immigration rules became more stringent in 1973.
While the majority of the 2,125 migrants’ cases solved by the taskforce were Caribbean nationals, this is the first time a picture has emerged for the number of Indians affected.
“We have made it clear that it is not acceptable that those of the Windrush generation have been impacted negatively, and this government has apologised,” UK immigration minister Caroline Nokes said in the House of Commons.
“It is an important point that we must provide reassurance and ensure that as many people as possible make contact with the taskforce. That is why we have been working closely with communities to make sure it is very clear that the taskforce has an attitude of helping individuals,” she said.
The ‘Windrush scandal’ emerged as UK-based Jamaicans faced forced deportations due to lack of documentary evidence that they had the legal right to be in Britain.
“The Windrush generation refers to citizens of former British colonies who arrived before 1973, when the rights of such Commonwealth citizens to live and work in Britain were substantially curtailed. While a large proportion of them were of Jamaican/Caribbean descent, they also included Indians and other South Asians,” said Rob McNeil, Deputy Director of the Migration Observatory.
In a letter dated July 10, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid informed the chair of the influential House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) that the Home Office has issued documentation to 2,125 people who contacted the task force hotline between April and June this year, confirming Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or No Time Limit (NTL) visas for them.
Indians at 93 such cases formed the third-largest group, after countries like Jamaica (1,014) and Barbados (207). The others include Grenada (88), Trinidad and Tobago (85), and 638 were from countries classified as ‘Others’.
Under a Windrush Scheme launched by the UK government in May, many of these applicants, their children born in the UK and those who arrived in the UK as minors are able to apply for British citizenship, or various other immigration routes, free of charge.
In June, 584 individuals were recorded as being granted citizenship through the scheme.
In his letter to HASC chair, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, Javid? said his department was also looking at the best ways of moving away from the so-called “hostile environment” to ensure there is “no adverse impact” on migrants who have a legal right to be in the UK.
“It is very disappointing that we still do not have information about the number of people wrongly detained, and that the Home Office has still not managed to make contact with the majority of those who were wrongfully deported or removed,” said Cooper, in response to the latest data.
The group referred to as the ‘Windrush generation’ relates to a ship named ‘Windrush’ which brought Jamaican workers to UK shores in 1948. The scandal emerged as many who arrived as children around that period have been struggling to access state services or even threatened with deportation because they did not possess any documents to prove they arrived before 1973.