BRITS born in the Caribbean have been wrongly kicked out of the country after living here for decades, the Government admitted today.
Theresa May has performed a dramatic U-turn – agreeing to host a summit with Commonwealth leaders to help the âWindrush generationâ keep their right to live and work in the UK.
And the Home Office is set to issue new assurances to Caribbean-born British citizens who have been having trouble proving that they are settled here.
Today the row escalated as immigration minister Caroline Nokes admitted some of the Windrush generation had been deported from Britain and returned to the countries of their birth by mistake.
She told ITV News: âThere have been some horrendous situations which as a minister have appalled me.â
Asked how many people were affected, Ms Nokes said: âI donât know the numbers, but what Iâm determined to do going forward is to say weâll have no more of this.â
The minister told Channel 4 News that anyone who was wrongly forced to leave Britain will be welcome to return, and pledged to help all the Windrush generation get the documents they need to prove their right to stay.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said in response: âIt is an absolute scandal that the Home Office doesnât even know how many people they have wrongly deported.
“The Windrush Generation must have their rights as British citizens confirmed, any who have been deported must be invited back to the UK immediately and those who oversaw their deportations must be held to account.â
The PM today agreed to meet a group of Caribbean leaders after previously denying their request for talks on the crisis.
The climbdown comes after several Brits of Caribbean origin described how they had lost their jobs, been denied NHS treatment or been threatened with deportation – even though they are UK citizens.
The group are named after the Empire Windrush, the ship which brought the first large group of immigrants from the Caribbean in 1948.
They are entitled to be citizens of Britain as long as they arrived here by 1973 – but a recent crackdown on immigration has made it harder for many to prove they have lived in the UK continuously.
If they have never applied for a British passport, they must produce documents from each year they’ve been here, a threshold which thousands find it hard to meet.
Mrs May has been under increasing pressure from senior Tories to resolve the situation.
In a sign they are keen to defuse the crisis, the Home Office today announced they will set up a special unit to help members of the Windrush generation who are worried about the rights.
Windrush generation who are told they’re not true Brits
DOZENS of Caribbean-born British citizens say they have been unable to prove they have a right to live in the UK – leading to lost jobs, huge medical bills or even deportation.
One victim is 61-year-old Paulette Wilson, who moved to Britain from Jamaica as a child in 1968 and has lived here ever since.
Last year Paulette, who used to work in Parliament as a cook, was told by the Home Office she must leave the UK and taken to the notorious Yarlâs Wood detention centre.
After a week in custody, she was moved to Heathrow and was about to put on a plane to Jamaica – only to be saved by a last-minute intervention from her local MP, who pointed out there is no evidence she is an illegal immigrant.
Michael Braithwaite, 66, was born in Barbados but has lived in Britain since he was nine years old.
He worked as a teaching assistant in North London for 15 years, only to be told recently that he was being sacked because he canât prove he has a legal right to stay in the country.
The Home Office has so far refused to confirm his right to live and work in the UK, making it impossible for him to get another job.
Hubert Howard, 61, has had trouble with the authorities for more than a decade because he was unable to prove his exact residence history.
He was just three when his family moved from Jamaica – but because he never filled out the right form, heâs never been granted the British passport he is eligible for.
As well as losing his job and benefits, Hubert couldnât travel to Jamaica to be with his ill mother before she died.
Earlier, leading Conservatives from all different wings of the party called on the PM and Home Secretary to take action.
Top Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg told LBC: âItâs absolutely dreadful. These people are as British as you and I are.
âItâs really extraordinary the Home Office is coming out with this ghastly bureaucratic guff saying theyâve got to show theyâre British. Nobodyâs asking us to prove that weâre British when we go and use public services.
“I think itâs a deep disgrace and it should be the top priority of the Government to sort it out.â
And Ruth Davidson, the powerful leader of the Scottish Tories, said she âcouldnât agree moreâ with a Sun editorial calling on the Government to guarantee the immigrantsâ rights.
Shortly before the PMâs U-turn, her ally Sajid Javid wrote on Twitter: âIâm deeply concerned to hear about difficulties some of the Windrush generation are facing with their immigration status.
âThis should not happen to people who have been longstanding pillars of our community.â
A group of 140 MPs from across the political spectrum sent a letter to No 10 demanding clarity on the situation – Labourâs David Lammy, who wrote the letter, said today: âAfter World War II we invited the Windrush Generation over as citizens to help rebuild our country, and now their children are being treated like criminals.
âThe Government is essentially stripping people of the rights that our government itself granted decades ago.â
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt admitted ministers had to do more, telling the BBC: “People who are in that situation, there is absolutely no question of their right to remain, and their right to gain access to services such as healthcare.
“What clearly needs to happen is we need to do a better job with the process that these individuals are having to go through.
“People should not be concerned about this – they have the right to stay and we should be reassuring them of that.”
She said anyone worried should contact their MP to ask for help.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has pledged to hold a summit involving Caribbean leaders and affected Brits later this week.