BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, April 17, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Caribbean leaders accepted an apology issued by UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, for what she described as the ‘anxiety’ caused by reported cases of deportation of Caribbean migrants of the ‘Windrush’ generation.
The Windrush generation refers to the thousands of people who arrived in the UK as children in the first wave of Commonwealth immigration 70 years ago, often on their parents’ passports. They are known as the Windrush generation in reference to the ship, the Empire Windrush, which brought workers from the West Indies to Britain in 1948.
Prime Minister May’s apology came during a meeting with 12 CARICOM leaders at #10 Downing Street earlier today, Tuesday, April 17. The regional leaders are in London for the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Under the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain.
However, the immigration process before that time was poorly documented and the Home Office did not keep accurate records or issue paperwork to those with the right to remain in the UK. This resulted in people who came to the UK legally as children now losing their jobs, being denied NHS treatment and potentially being sent back to the Caribbean, according to international media reports.
Addressing members of the British media after the meeting, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, labelled the situation as deeply “regrettable” and stated, “We hope that these troubling issues that are impacting the migrant population would not surface again, and that through dialogue and through input with the impacted parties resolutions can be found.”
The UK Prime Minister told the Caribbean leaders that she takes “this issue very seriously” and pledged to compensate anyone left out of pocket after it emerged that some people had lost their jobs and benefit entitlements, and others who had to take specialist legal advice to avoid deportation.
Prime Minister Harris added, “We did say that those who had been deported, improperly deported, that their situation ought to be revisited and restitution be had. I think that principle the British Government, through its prime minister, has accepted and so St. Kitts and Nevis was satisfied that we had an opportunity to dialogue.”
The St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister noted that Tuesday’s meeting with Prime Minister May was “the start of the dialogue, as evidence is uncovered which requires correction.”
Dr. Harris said he hopes the British government would be “morally persuaded to do the right thing and to make good any injustice that persons would have suffered by the requisite means, including compensation where that would be the appropriate response.”