April 16, 2018
Minister says Home Office has become ‘too concerned with policy ’ over individuals
Windrush-era citizens row: timeline of key events
Amber Rudd pledges action to resolve status of Windrush citizens
The UK home secretary has announced the creation of a new Home Office team dedicated to ensuring no more Windrush-era citizens will be classified as illegal immigrants, and acknowledged that the Home Office had become “too concerned with policy and strategy” over individuals.
In a significant criticism of her own department, Amber Rudd said the Home Office had become too concerned with policy and strategy and sometimes lost sight of the individuals. “This is about individuals. We have seen the individual stories and some of them have been terrible.”
The Home Office promised that fees to naturalise or apply for a biometric card, which can run into thousands of pounds, would be waived for people in this category. Rudd said there would be a team of about 20 people working on the issue in the Home Office.
The announcement came after immigration minister Caroline Nokes indicated that some residents who answered the call to come to the UK to work in essential services in the 1950s and 60s had been deported in error back to countries they left as children for not having the right documents.
Rudd said action would be taken to rectify the situation for anyone who had been wrongly deported. She said she was not aware of anyone who had been deported and said the government was trying to establish this with the Caribbean heads of government.
She was repeatedly challenged over Theresa May’s “hostile” immigration environment, and asked if it was time to end the policy. The Tottenham MP David Lammy, who secured the urgent debate, said this was “a day of national shame”.
“Can she [Rudd] tell the house how many have been detained as prisoners in their own country, how many have been denied access to health services, how many denied pensions and lost the jobs?” he asked. “It has come about because of a hostile environment policy that was begun under her prime minister.”
Nokes told ITV News earlier: “There have been some horrendous situations which as a minister have appalled me.”

Asked how many people had been deported, Nokes said: “I don’t know the numbers. But what I’m determined to do going forward is say we will have no more of this. We want people to have confidence to come to the Home Office. We want to give them a message of reassurance, because I value these people.”
The prime minister will meet representatives of 12 Caribbean countries this week to discuss the immigration problems experienced by some British residents of the Windrush generation, in an apparent climbdown.
Downing Street said the prime minister deeply valued the contribution of Commonwealth citizens who moved to the UK decades ago and stressed that nobody with a right to be in the country would be made to leave.
No 10 had initially rejected a formal diplomatic request from the 12 countries, whose representatives are in London for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) this week, giving the impression that the May government was not taking a sufficiently serious approach to the problem.
Through the day there was growing outrage among politicians about the situation, which has affected an unknown number of people who arrived in the UK as children, but never formally naturalised or applied for a British passport. The government’s position appeared to shift.
Downing Street’s change of heart followed the publication of a letter sent to May and signed by more than 140 MPs from across the political spectrum. The letter expressed concern about the many long-term British residents who have been incorrectly identified as illegal immigrants.
Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, tweeted on Monday: “I’m deeply concerned to hear about difficulties some of the Windrush generation are facing with their immigration status. This should not happen to people who have been longstanding pillars of our community. The government is looking into this urgently.”
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “She deeply values the contribution made by these and all Commonwealth citizens who have made a life in the UK and is making sure the home office is offering the correct solution for individual situations.
“She is aware that many people are unlikely to have documents that are over 40 years old and is clear that no one with the right to be here will be made to leave.”
The spokesman said the Home Office would look at individual cases with “great sensitivity”, suggesting the department could provide extra support to help people navigate the system.
However, most people in this situation have not found the Home Office sensitive to their plight.
“[May] is going to make sure that we’re offering the correct solution for individual situations. Each situation may well be different but we need to make sure that we have the support there to help people through the process,” the spokesman said.
When asked whether the prime minister would apologise over the issue, he said: “If there are ways we can make the process better then of course we will, if there are problems that people have been put through, that clearly would be a matter of regret.”
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