How May’s “hostile environment” for migrants hit the Windrush generation

Five Theresa May immigration policies that have hit Windrush migrants

The Conservatives have admitted that their immigration policies could have resulted in the deportation of UK citizens from the Windrush generation who arrived from Caribbean countries after World War II.

Tory Home Secretary Amber Rudd has now said that the government’s treatment of Windrush migrants has been “wrong” and “appalling”, but many will still face an anxious wait until they are issued new papers by a Home Office taskforce.

A major cause of that anxiety is Theresa May’s policies, which are intended to create a “more hostile place for illegal immigrants”. Here are five things that May’s immigration policies have made impossible for Windrush migrants who do not have the right documents, despite some raising concerns with the Home Office more than five years ago.

1 Getting a job

Theresa May’s 2014 Immigration Act introduced tougher checks on employees’ immigration status which have meant that at least one Windrush migrant has lost his job. Michael Braithwate came to Britian from Barbados in 1961, and had been working at a primary school in London for fifteen years until checks revealed he did not have his immigration papers in order. He lost his job in 2017 and has not been able to secure new papers from the Home Office.

2 Getting NHS treatment

In 2016 Theresa May backed a new policy of passport checks on patients presenting themselves at NHS hospitals, amid reports that pregnant women had been forced to hand over their passports before receiving treatment. Similar checks were rolled out across the NHS in October. Now the Guardian has reported that Albert Thompson, who arrived in London from Jamaica as a teenager in 1973, was told he would have to pay £54,000 for prostate cancer treatment if he could not present his papers. He is not receiving treatment.

3 Opening a bank account

It was announced in September that banks and building societies would be required to carry out immigration checks on 70 million customers to freeze the accounts of illegal immigrants, with the Home Office declaring it aimed “to make it harder for them to establish or maintain a settled life in the UK”.

4 Renting somewhere to live

May’s 2014 Immigration Act also featured a new requirement on landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. There are reports that such checks have led to the eviction of Windrush migrants, with others told that they do not qualify for housing support benefits.

5 Getting a driving license

Theresa May’s Home Office also ramped up migration checks on driving license applicants. It was reported last year that 27,000 drivers have had their licenses revoked as a result, although there have been no reports at this time of individual Windrush migrants being affected.

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