The mistreatment of the Caribbean immigrants is sad and unfortunate

The recent decision by the United Kingdom government to deport Caribbean immigrants otherwise known as the ‘Windrush generation’ underscores the fact that despite several rights charters which reject discrimination against people on the basis of the colour of their skin, racism still persists in the West. Besides, the development confirms that the biennial assembly of heads of government under the auspices of Commonwealth Heads of Government of Meeting (CHOGM) is a mere charade since Britain seems interested only in exploiting its former colonies.

The ‘Windrush generation’ was named after a passenger ship known as ‘HMT Empire Windrush’ which conveyed almost 500 Caribbean immigrants to Britain on June 22, 1948 to mark the first phase of mass migration from the then British colonies after the Second World War. Their migration at the instance of Britain was meant to assist the country in the arduous task of rebuilding a nation which had been devastated by World War II between 1939 and1945.

The ‘Windrush generation’ migrated to Britain in several phases from 1948 to 1973 and they deployed their strength to build most of the infrastructure, including the London Underground. Consequently, Britain granted this generation a legal stay by enacting the 1948 British Nationality Act to offer “citizenship of the United Kingdom and the colonies,” to members of the ‘Windrush generation’. The act granted anyone who migrated between 1948 and 1973 the legal right to permanently live in Britain.

However, in 2018, when the 70th anniversary of the advent of ‘Windrush generation’ ought to be celebrated, Britain opted to repay good with evil by oppressing these immigrants with many of them subjected to harassment, severe discrimination, arrests and threat of deportation while the sick among them have been denied medical attention. In implementing the anti-Windrush agenda, the government of Prime Minister Theresa May came up with immigration checks which mandate employers and landlords in the UK to check the identities of their employees and tenants. Against this background, many of them have lost their jobs while others are held in detention centres where they are made to face deportation.

What makes the case unfortunate is that this unjust treatment was conceived by May in 2010 when she was the British Home Office Secretary. Her office at the time destroyed thousands of original landing cards containing details and documentation of the arrival dates of Windrush immigrants. The landing cards were meant to authenticate their stay in Britain and since most of them arrived as children, they are no longer in possession of documents to prove their right to stay in the country.

Although May offered a perfunctory apology for the ill-treatment of the ‘Windrush generation’ during the just concluded CHOGM in London while addressing Caribbean leaders, that apology does not offer any hope for all the victims as she also stated without ambiguity that only those who legally came to Britain after World War II could stay indefinitely. The question arising from this is: What is the fate of those whose evidences of arrival had been destroyed and have no document to establish their legal right to stay in Britain?

Alluding to the efforts of the immigrants in rebuilding Britain, Diane Abott, Home Shadow Secretary said: “This was a generation with unparalleled commitment to this country, unparalleled pride in being British, unparalleled commitment to hard work and contributing to society. It is shameful that this government has treated this generation in this way.”

The ill-treatment of the immigrants in line with the above sincere expression of Abott only provides another platform for the examination of issues of migration and simultaneously brings to the fore the degree of immoral acts being perpetrated by some of the so-called Western countries.