Racism and the Windrush scandal in the U.K.5:40 pm - 09/02/2018
OP: Just as a quick explanation (more detail is in the second article below). Those arriving in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries have been labelled the Windrush generation. This is a reference to the ship MV Empire Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on 22 June 1948, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, as a response to post-war labour shortages in the UK. These are people who came from Commonwealth countries and therefore considered themselves British. The Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain or issue any paperwork confirming it - meaning it is difficult for Windrush arrivals to prove they are in the UK legally. Many documents were also destroyed by the Home Office in 2010. Those who lack documents are now being told they need evidence to continue working, get treatment from the NHS (i.e. public health care in the UK) - or even to remain in the UK. Changes to immigration law in 2012, which require people to have documentation to work, rent a property or access benefits, including healthcare, have left people fearful about their status. (More is here.) It is important to note that some of what happened to the Windrush generation took place even before May's 'crackdown' (i.e. so the problem existed with previous governments as well, although things got worse with Theresa May).
Another important fact to note is that many of those affected by this scandal (more accurately termed 'abuse') caused by the UK government and Theresa May in particular, are not white. So racism is definitely a huge factor here.
'I was like a lamb to the slaughter': deported after 35 years in the UK
Ivan Anglin, 82, in Mandeville, Jamaica, where he has lived since being deported from the UK in 1998.
After visiting Jamaica for his sister’s funeral in 1998, Windrush victim Ivan Anglin was given two days to pack up his life.
For the past five weeks, Ivan Anglin has been waiting at his home in Mandeville, central Jamaica, for a letter from the British high commission in Kingston telling him whether or not he can return to England to see his daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Anglin, 82, was deported from the UK in 1998 after returning from his sister’s funeral in Jamaica. He was unable to persuade immigration officials at Heathrow that he had permanent right of abode in England and was given 48 hours to tie up 35 years of life in the UK and return to the airport. He only had time to say goodbye to one of his daughters.
He only told a couple of close friends and family members in Jamaica that he had been deported. The stigma of deportation is so powerful that he judged it better to let people believe he had returned voluntarily.
But he is hoping that an application to the Windrush taskforce will be successful, allowing him to visit England again. He was interviewed by six British high commission officials on 18 July and was told that a response would be couriered to his home within a matter of days. He feels he cannot leave the house in case he misses a delivery. “I can’t go far. If I go to the market, I come back quickly.”
Born in 1936 when Jamaica was still a British colony, Anglin had an English education, sitting exams set by Cambridge examination board. At his school, pupils would sing God Save the King and later God Save the Queen and occasionally Rule, Britannia!, with the (peculiar to him from an adult perspective) line, “Britons never will be slaves.” “We had to sing all these patriotic songs. We had no choice, you just do as you are told by the teacher. We were taught England was the mother country; we didn’t know what that meant.”
Ivan Anglin’s passport photo from the 1960s. He came to the UK in 1962.
During the second world war, his teacher asked all the children at the small rural school, which had no electricity and no running water, to ask their parents for money for the British war effort. “So that we could send contributions to England to buy bomber planes for a squadron. My parents didn’t have much money. My mother was a dressmaker, my father was a carpenter. I think I gave my teacher two shillings.”
His older sister left to become a dressmaker in Brixton and wrote a letter to him, suggesting that he come to join her. Anglin visited the governor’s office to get a British passport, bought two pairs of sturdy shoes, packed one pair in his small suitcase, and wore the other pair to take a flight onboard a Douglas DC-8 to London on 2 January, 1962. His sister met him at the airport carrying a black overcoat, to help him cope with the cold. “Snow was heaped up in streets. I had never felt cold before. You started trembling, marking time with your feet to get the circulation going.”
In the many apologies issued by the government to those caught up in the Windrush scandal, there have been repeated acknowledgements that Caribbean migrants performed a vital role in helping to rebuild Britain after the war. As a carpenter, Anglin played a vital role in that process.
“We were working on bombsites, building houses. I didn’t have trouble getting jobs. That’s why they took Caribbean workers,” he said. For a long time he worked for the London borough of Newham. “I helped to build council flats, 33-floor-high tower blocks, those sort of buildings. When one is finished, there would be another block. We used to put in doorways, and the windows.”
He felt the tension of simmering racist hostility from the moment he arrived. “When you’re look for jobs, and they see you walking along, sometimes they would say: sorry mate, no blacks allowed. When you go to seek an apartment, some people tell you that they don’t want coloured people. It was quite common. You feel dejected. I didn’t know anything about racism when I was in Jamaica.”
For a while he worked at Ford in Dagenham, on the production line, putting car doors on. He remembers a National Front contingent among fellow workers. “They would say: you come here and take our jobs. Some would tell you straight out what they thought, which was good, so you know where to put your foot, you know to get out of their way.”
But mostly life was happy. He bought a house in Ilford, and brought up four girls and a son. Later he got a job he loved as a barman at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire.
Because he travelled with a British passport before Jamaica became independent, Anglin assumed he was British. His wife came to join him a year later, after Jamaican independence in August 1962, and when there was a government campaign to encourage Caribbean-born migrants to register for British citizenship in the 1980s, she formally naturalised.
Ivan Anglin with his wife and children in the 1970s.
“I considered myself British. When I left here to go to England, you didn’t need permission. My wife got her citizenship. I didn’t bother with the citizenship because I was British,” he said, with an unhappy laugh. He acknowledges that he was probably unduly relaxed about his immigration status.
When his British passport expired, he didn’t see the need to renew it. “I was working at Ford, no one asked me for it.” In the late 1970s he was renovating the family home, and using a blowtorch to remove paint from the gutters. “I didn’t realise there was a bird’s nest up there.” It caught fire, setting the roof alight. There was more damage done when the fire brigade flooded the house to put out the fire. Anglin’s British passport got drenched, the pages were stuck together. Since it had expired already, “I just dumped it.”
In the 1990s, he travelled back to Jamaica twice. He had to go back at short notice for his mother’s funeral and applied for a Jamaican passport, because he thought that would be quicker than getting a new British passport. Life became complicated when his marriage in the UK broke down, so he stayed for two years in Jamaica. “I wanted a break from Britain.” The first time he was able to return without any problems; the second time, after visiting Jamaica again for his sister’s funeral, he was stopped at Heathrow. “They thought I was just a Jamaican trying to come to Britain,” he said.
Anglin at his daughter Angela’s graduation. He only had time to say goodbye to one of his daughters before leaving the UK.
He didn’t try to tell them that he considered himself British. “You can’t argue with the authorities. The decision was that I cannot stay any longer in the country, and that I should go home to Jamaica. I didn’t give them any trouble. I was like a lamb to the slaughter. I did what they told me to do.”
Anglin was deported under a Labour government. Although most of the difficulties connected with losing jobs, flats and access to healthcare experienced by Windrush-generation people in the UK have happened as a result of the introduction of hostile environment policies by Theresa May in 2012, wrongful deportations and refusals of re-entry have been happening for much longer.
In his most recent update on the government’s handling of the Windrush debacle, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, pointed out that many of the deportations or refusals to allow people to return to the UK happened under previous Labour administrations. He rebuked the Tottenham MP, David Lammy, on Twitter for his criticism of the Home Office, stating: “Let’s not play party political games. Far too important. Around half of the 164 [deported or imprisoned] were under Labour.”
Anglin’s daughter Patricia said the impact of the deportation on his children has been profound, and has effectively left her without a father for 20 years. “We could not understand why our dad was being deported from England after living, working and raising children here for over 35 years, paying taxes and National Insurance.
“Dad is a very proud man, so when he was initially given the 48-hour notice he didn’t tell his family or ask for our help. I think he felt very traumatised and upset about the whole situation and didn’t want to put such strain and worry on us.”
After he left, his children tried to work out how to help him. They consulted immigration lawyers who quoted a lot of money that they did not have. For a while, it was hard to remain in touch with him because of the cost of calling Jamaica.
Anglin missed his son’s funeral because of the deportation.
“Nobody should have to go through this kind of treatment, especially someone like our father. He is a decent, hard-working, law-abiding person,” Patricia said. “He’s missed out on the births of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the death and funeral of his only son, and other close family members and friends he’s known since he came to the UK in the 60s.”
He has rebuilt a life in Jamaica, settling in Mandeville, a place favoured by many returning residents, where the climate is cooler, more like England. Many of the houses here are huge, palatial buildings, demonstrating the wealth acquired abroad. Anglin lives alone in a ground-floor flat, with a dog. His youngest daughter, who had been living with him, has recently left to take up a job as a teacher in South Carolina.
He was very sad not to be able to return to England three years ago for the funeral of his son Michael, a bus driver, who died young of a stroke. He has no desire to return to England permanently, but says he “wouldn’t mind going and spending some time with the grandchildren and the children”.
He is trying not to feel bitter at his predicament. “I feel sad, not angry; it is a sad situation. It is a part of life,” he said.
Windrush generation: Who are they and why are they facing problems?
Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised to Caribbean leaders over deportation threats made to the children of Commonwealth citizens, who despite living and working in the UK for decades, have been told they are living here illegally because of a lack of official paperwork.
Who are the "Windrush generation"?
Those arriving in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries have been labelled the Windrush generation.
This is a reference to the ship MV Empire Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on 22 June 1948, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, as a response to post-war labour shortages in the UK.
The ship carried 492 passengers - many of them children.
It is unclear how many people belong to the Windrush generation, since many of those who arrived as children travelled on parents' passports and never applied for travel documents - but they are thought to be in their thousands.
There are now 500,000 people resident in the UK who were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived before 1971 - including the Windrush arrivals - according to estimates by Oxford University's Migration Observatory.
The generation's end
The influx ended with the 1971 Immigration Act, when Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain.
After this, a British passport-holder born overseas could only settle in the UK if they firstly had a work permit and, secondly, could prove that a parent or grandparent had been born in the UK.
Where are they now?
Many of the arrivals became manual workers, cleaners, drivers and nurses - and some broke new ground in representing black Britons in society.
The Jamaican-British campaigner Sam Beaver King, who died in 2016 aged 90, arrived at Tilbury Docks in his 20s before finding work as a postman.
He later became the first black Mayor of Southwark in London.
The Labour MP David Lammy, whose parents arrived in the UK from Guyana, describes himself as a "proud son of the Windrush".
Are they here legally?
I am campaigning for an amnesty but in reality it would not be an amnesty because that word implies wrongdoing. These people have done nothing wrong. Govt must simply do the right thing, establish a humane route to clarifying their status in this country & change burden of proof.— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 16, 2018
The Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain or issue any paperwork confirming it - meaning it is difficult for Windrush arrivals to prove they are in the UK legally.
And in 2010, landing cards belonging to Windrush migrants were destroyed by the Home Office.
Because they came from British colonies that had not achieved independence, they believed they were British citizens.
- In Pictures: The pioneering Windrush generation
- 'A nightmare, and it's not over yet'
- Reality Check: How do you prove you've been living in the UK?
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "People should not be concerned about this - they have the right to stay and we should be reassuring them of that."
Mrs May's spokesman said the prime minister was clear that "no-one with the right to be here will be made to leave".
Why are they facing problems?
Those who lack documents are now being told they need evidence to continue working, get treatment from the NHS - or even to remain in the UK.
Changes to immigration law in 2012, which require people to have documentation to work, rent a property or access benefits, including healthcare, have left people fearful about their status.
The BBC has learned of a number of cases where people have been affected.
Sonia Williams, who came to the UK from Barbados in 1975, aged 13, said she had her driving licence withdrawn and lost her job when she was told she did not have indefinite leave to remain.
Sonia Williams came to the UK in the 1970s.
"I came here as a minor to join my mum, dad, sister and brother," she told BBC Two's Newsnight. "I wasn't just coming on holiday."
Paulette Wilson, 61, who came to Britain from Jamaica aged 10 in the late 1960s, said she received a letter saying she was in the country illegally.
"I just didn't understand it and I kept it away from my daughter for about two weeks, walking around in a daze thinking 'why am I illegal?'"
What has the government said?
In her apology, Mrs May insisted the government was not "clamping down" on Commonwealth citizens, particularly those from the Caribbean.
The government is creating a task force to help applicants demonstrate they are entitled to work in the UK. It aims to resolve cases within two weeks of evidence being provided.
Announcing the move, Home Secretary Amber Rudd apologised for the "appalling" way the Windrush generation had been treated.
She told MPs the Home Office had "become too concerned with policy and strategy - and loses sight of the individual".
Delegates at this week's Commonwealth heads of government meeting in London are to discuss the situation.
What about other Commonwealth arrivals?
Not everybody who arrived in the UK during the period faced such problems.
Children's TV presenter Floella Benjamin, who was born in Trinidad, said: "I could so easily be one of the Windrush children who are now asked to leave but I came to Britain as a child without my parents on a British passport."
Baroness Benjamin, 68, moved to Beckenham, Kent, in 1960.
"Before 1973 many Caribbean kids came to Britain on their parents' passport and not their own. That's why many of these cases are coming to light," she said.
How is the campaign progressing?
More than 160,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to grant an amnesty to anyone who arrived in the UK as a minor between 1948 and 1971.
Its creator, the activist Patrick Vernon, calls on the government to stop all deportations, change the burden of proof, and provide compensation for "loss and hurt".
Mr Vernon, whose parents migrated to the UK from Jamaica in the 1950s, called for "justice for tens of thousands of individuals who have worked hard, paid their taxes and raised children and grandchildren and who see Britain as their home."
However, some people have objected to the word "amnesty" - saying it implies the Windrush generation were not legally entitled to live in the UK in the first place.
How is the Windrush celebrated?
The Windrush was recreated during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Events are held annually to commemorate the Windrush's arrival 70 years ago, and the subsequent wave of immigration from Caribbean countries.
A model of the ship featured in the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games, while the lead-up to Windrush Day on 22 June is being marked with exhibitions, church services and cultural events.
They include works by photographer Harry Jacobs, who took portraits of Caribbean families coming to London in the 1950s, which are being exhibited in Brixton, south-east London.
-From slavery to Windrush: My family's story. The BBC's Amanda Kirton journeys from Britain to Jamaica and uncovers not only her family's hidden past but the dark history of the two islands. She discovers why the Windrush scandal was about more than the politics of immigration. (OP: This is a video that is really worth watching. What she discovered about her white relatives and the link to slavery and how differently the black and white branches of the same family have been treated by the UK is really revealing.)
OP: This is just so awful and shameful. As another source described: "retirement-age citizens who have lived and paid taxes in the UK for decades have been detained, made homeless, sacked or denied benefits and NHS treatment because they have struggled to prove they are British."