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The Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that his party will refuse to compensate 32 of the 63 British Citizens who the Conservative Party wrongly deported at the height of Theresa May’s so-called ‘hostile environment’.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, Javid claimed that 32 of those found by the government to have been wrongly deported were ‘serious offenders’, and stated that he would not be getting in touch with them as he did not want them ‘back in our country’.
However, the Home Secretary refused to provide further details on what offences the 32 were alleged to have committed, or whether the offences occurred before or after they had been wrongly deported by the government.
Furthermore, the Home Secretary’s stance may prove to be legally problematic for the government – especially given the fact that he himself has admitted that the 32 were wrongly deported.
Indeed, all of the 63 British Citizens thought to have been wrongly deported by the government are thought to be members of the Windrush generation. And depending on a number of factors, the fact that 32 of these people are alleged to be ‘serious offenders’ may not prove sufficient legal argument for the government to refuse compensation or a right to return to the UK.
The Windrush Generation are a group of people who arrived to Britain from Commenwealth countries during the 50s and 60s, most of whom arrived in response to an invite from Britain to address worker shortages in the country following World War II.
Those who arrived during this period did so under the impression that they would be given a special form of British Citizenship known as Commonwealth citizenship, as per the British Nationality Act 1948.
At this time, the law stated that Commenwealth Citizenship conveyed all the rights of British Citizenship – but these rights were gradually worn away following increasing public backlash to immigration and the subsequent law changes, beginning with the Immigration Act 1971.
According to the immigration law blog Free Movement:
“Most of the “Windrush generation”, so-called after the first ship which arrived from Jamaica in 1948, consisted of citizens of the UK and Colonies, a form of citizenship conferred by the British Nationality Act 1948, and also known as Commonwealth citizenship.
There were no immigration restrictions on these people entering the UK at that time; they were known as the “freely landed“. In fact, as Colin says, they “were allowed to live and work anywhere within the territories of the United Kingdom and Colonies. There was total freedom of movement”.
But in response to increased numbers of migrants coming to the UK, legislation was later introduced to restrict the rights of entry to the UK for these Commonwealth citizens.
However, as an official government account of the history of UK immigration law states:
The notion that the British Empire constituted a single territory, and that all British subjects were free to enter the UK, came to an end with the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962.
Those of the Windrush generation who arrived before the law changed in 1971 were fully entitled to acquire British Citizenship, but owing to fees – now as high as £1,330 to acquire it – many were unable to do so.
Many of those who did not acquire British Citizenship subsequently became victims of so-called ‘hostile environment’, with the government now admitting that it wrongly deported 63 people as a result.
Labour MP David Lammy, who has been one of the leading voices speaking out against the injustices suffered by the Windrush generation at the hands of the Tories, perfectly explained exactly how the Tories’ refusal to compensate these 32 wronglfully deported British citizens goes against both the principle of British citizenship, and possibly the law, stating:
“All Windrush citizens who have been deported are British citizens. We do not deport British citizens – if they have committed a crime they serve their time. We stopped deporting citizens to Australia in 1868. They are citizens first and foremost, everything else is secondary.”
All Windrush citizens who have been deported are British citizens. We do not deport British citizens – if they have committed a crime they serve their time. We stopped deporting citizens to Australia in 1868. They are citizens first and foremost, everything else is secondary. https://t.co/aJMdzYt077
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) June 3, 2018
Whilst to much of the public Sajid Javid’s stance of refusing compensation to 32 alleged ‘serious offenders’ may sound justified on first hearing, we do not know the full facts around the deportation of these people such as what offences were committed, or even whether the offences were committed after they were wrongfully deported.
Furthermore, as Lammy says, every single one of the 63 people the government has admitted to deporting have been, by the government’s own admission, wrongfully deported.
Javid’s position shows that he is clearly attempting to play to the public by appearing tough on ‘serious offenders’ – but British Citizenship cannot simply be revoked because somebody has committed a crime. As Lammy rightly says, Britain realised this kind of behaviour was wrong when it stopped deporting its convicts in 1868.
Once again the Tories appear to be ignoring the rules and attempting to portray the Windrush Generation as illegal immigrants, or as people Britain can simply discard if we don’t have any need for them any more.
However, not only is the Tories’ stance on the 32 wrongfully deported Windrush citizens morally wrong due to their rightful British Citizenship, it could well turn out to be legally wrong as well.