AT LEAST FIVE Vincentians, one currently in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) have been affected in the British Windrush generation immigration scandal.
The ‘Windrush’ generation was named after British ship the ‘Empire Windrush’, which arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948 with 492 Caribbean passengers on board. The group was made up of persons who went to the United Kingdom (UK) from Commonwealth countries as children following the Second World War. These persons’ rights to be British citizens were certified by the Immigration Act of 1971, but new immigration laws required these persons to prove continuous residence in the UK since 1973.
This was impossible for many of the Windrush generation as the Home Office did not record the details of each individual who landed and some of them did not get documents which would have allowed them to prove they were in the UK legally.
As a result, some were denied access to state healthcare, made redundant from their jobs and even threatened with deportation. The UK government has since apologised and promised that no one from the Windrush generation will be deported or deprived of their rights.
Commenting on the issue last week, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sir Louis Straker told SEARCHLIGHT that on Monday April 16, that he and other Caribbean Foreign Ministers met with British Home Office Minister Caroline Nokes.
He said that Nokes apologized for the treatment meted out to the Windrush generation and promised to put the matter right.
Sir Louis noted that so far, one person here in SVG called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informed them that her aunt was affected by the immigration policy. He said that the affected woman spent 40 years in England, returned to SVG about 10 years ago, but when she tried to return to England, she was denied entry.
“She was told she had no documents to prove that she had a right to stay in the UK,” explained Sir Louis who said he will meet with the woman soon so that he can send off her details to Cenio Lewis, this country’s High Commissioner in the UK.
He said Lewis will pass on the information to Nokes who will deal with the issue and who has promised that the UK will pay the return air fare of persons who have been deported as well as compensate them for any benefits lost.
“I have no doubt that they will deal with it. When I sat with them they were under pressure and they want to do what is right, so I have no doubt,” reiterated Sir Louis.
He noted that the other Vincentians, some four of them, caught up in the Windrush scandal, are in the UK and Lewis is working with the Home Office on those cases.
Sir Louis said that he is satisfied with the assurance given by the Minister who has already put her assurances in writing.
BRITISH SHIP the ‘Empire Windrush’, which arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948 with 492 Caribbean passengers on board.
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS Sir Louis Straker