Amber Rudd resigned as United Kingdom (U.K.) Home Secretary on April 29, 2018. U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May, of the Conservative Party, subsequently appointed Sajid Javid to the position. Rudd struggled with explaining her role in the mistreatment of Windrush generation migrants. Rudd had claimed that her department did not enforce deportation targets, but the Guardian reported that a private letter from May of 2017 indicated she informed the Prime Minister that she intended to increase deportations by 10 percent. The handling by her department of the Windrush generation, who are people from the Caribbean who legally came to the U.K. during the 1950s and 1960s, but have had difficulties proving their status amidst crackdowns on illegal immigration, became a source of significant controversy. Javid, who was previously the Secretary of State for Communities, Local Government and Housing, was swiftly promoted to Home Secretary. The 48-year-old, son of immigrants from Pakistan, is the first ethnic minority to serve in this position. He has a record of speaking out on the struggles of these legal arrivals who have suffered from crackdowns on illegal immigration.
Shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott of the Labour Party, told the Guardian, “what I said when I called for her to resign last week was that it is a matter of honour. Given all the to-ing and fro-ing and issues about whether she’d been entirely truthful with the home affairs select committee, I don’t think the Windrush generation could have had the confidence in her.” One of the people affected by the Windrush crisis, Anthony Bryan, stated that “it’s a shock. I feel like I helped bring down the home secretary. I wouldn’t say I am pleased; I feel sorry for her in a sense because it looks like she is taking the punishment for Theresa May.” Javid, prior to his appointment, stated that “when I heard about the Windrush issue I thought, ‘That could be my mum… it could be my dad… it could be my uncle… it could be me.'”
The issues that have been created and perpetuated by the U.K. government’s handling of a group of Caribbean immigrants to the U.K. who entered legally, but have faced significant issues and harassment while being targeted by government initiatives, are specifically designed to target illegal immigration. This scandal demonstrates the real human impact that policies of this nature can have, which can seem unintended and highly devastating. The difficulties that those affected have had in proving their citizenship is, therefore, a prominent example of that human impact, along with the closely related socioeconomic impacts.
The Windrush generation is a label given to arrivals to the U.K. from Caribbean countries during the period of 1948 to 1971. The name itself is a reference to the MV Empire Windrush, which was a ship that arrived in the U.K. bringing workers from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, in response to labour shortages following World War II. The exact numbers that belong to this generation are difficult to measure, as many people arrived as children travelling on their parents’ passports. The difficulty for the Windrush generation stems from the Home Office of the U.K. not keeping a record of those granted leave to remain, nor issuing paperwork confirming this. This made it difficult for this group to prove that they are in the U.K. legally. Additionally, in 2010, landing cards of Windrush migrants were destroyed by the Home Office. Members of this group, many of whom lack documents, are now being told that they need evidence of their status to continue working, receiving NHS care, or even to remain in the United Kingdom.
Ultimately, the Windrush scandal and its fallout have had an important impact on the overall perception of policies and the power that they can have over the lives of those who are directly, or indirectly, targeted by them. The impact that it has on the political realm has been powerful and swift, with important shakeups to the cabinet of the U.K. government. The many ramifications of the scandal are continuous, with many impacts and effects that will become apparent with the passage of some time.
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