Whether you live in the UK or in the United States, there are stories in the press regarding the deportation of long term residents, allegedly because they have no official citizenship status, having arrived as children of immigrant parents.
Currently the UK must hang its head in shame as it watches the attempt to redact huge swathes of history, distort generations of family and social history, to follow what they consider to be the letter of the law. All to create the illusion that they are addressing a problem, the various political parties promised to tackle, as part of their election manifestos in the last twenty years. Neither the Tories or Labour party are blameless in this.
In 1948, 948 British passengers (and two stowaways), arrived from Jamaica aboard the ‘Empire Windrush’. The ship by the way was not British, it was originally German and was originally the ‘MV Monte Rosa’ a cruise ship launched in 1930. During the Second World War she acted as a troop carrier, and in 1945 was passed to the British as a prize of war and renamed. Empire Windrush
In fact, Jamaica was also a prize of war, when the British conquered the Island in 1655 from the Spanish, and assumed responsibility for its population. The British did amazingly well during its governance of the island, and fortunes were made by those in power from the sugar plantations, and for nearly 200 years from the slave trade, until it was abolished in the 1840s. I am pretty sure too, that there are many who live in Jamaica who share both Anglo Saxon and their native Arawak and Taino bloodlines following on from these years of British rule!
In 1948 the island won its independence from the United Kingdom, but by then generations of Jamaicans considered themselves British, had worked hard, paid their taxes and many dreamed of coming to their mother nation to start new lives. As did the 948 Windrush passengers (and the two stowaways).
Now the children of those Windrush passengers, and of many thousands of other Commonwealth residents including Canada, who arrived in the UK to begin new lives, are being told that despite working and contributing to the British economy for decades, they will be deported to their country of origin.
The stories are chilling, but especially as quite a number refer to those who require expensive medical treatment or are on disability.
Here is an extract from an article.
A growing number of cases of Home Office mistreatment of non-Caribbean Commonwealth-born citizens are emerging, indicating that the problem is likely to spread beyond the Windrush group. Immigration charities and MPs reported that numerous new cases had been reported this week of individuals from countries including Kenya, Cyprus and Canada.
‘I felt like dirt’: disabled Canadian woman told to leave UK after 44 years
Echoing the hidden nature of the Windrush cases the scale of the problems experienced by those from non-Windrush nations appears to be only gradually emerging.
A spokesperson at the Canadian high commission said: “To the best of our knowledge, the High Commission of Canada has not been contacted by any Canadians seeking assistance in matters related to Windrush.”
But Margaret O’Brien, 69, who moved to the UK from Canada in 1971, described battling over two years to persuade the Home Office to believe that she was here legitimately. She was threatened with removal to Canada, where she has no surviving relatives; her disability benefits were suspended, leaving her impoverished.
It would seem the fact, that over 57,000 residents, have worked and paid for taxes for decades, means very little, particularly when it involves their need for medical support as they get older.
In regard to the ‘Windrush’ scandal, and the assertion that all the landing cards, proving the identity of all the passengers, adults and children alike had been shredded, there has been a public apology issued by the Home Secretary and Prime Minister.
The home secretary’s announcement on Monday was titled “Windrush Migrants” and she paid repeated, effusive respects to that specific group, lamenting the “hardship they had endured” as a result of her department’s policies. “It is only right that the significant contribution the Windrush generation have made to the UK is recognised,” Amber Rudd said. There was little focus on non-Caribbean nations.
However, that still leaves the thousands of non-Caribbean descendants who have never formalised their citizenship, believing that having been allowed into the country as a child, gave them right to stay.
We are not alone in this mis-management of hugely contributive members of our societies, who arrived from British protectorates with their families in the last 70 + years. The USA is also deporting men and women who have contributed to their countries economy for decades, back to countries where they have no living relatives and no other ties.
My opinion, for what it is worth, is that the governments are going after easy targets in order to fulfill their election promises to reduce their net immigration figures.
They are easy targets because they are registered for social security, tax, NHS, council tax and state pensions. This last one is important, because the majority of these law abiding citizens, are now at the age where they are drawing a pension, and possibly requiring more health care. They have gone from contributing to the coffers from withdrawing some of that back.
They are certainly a lot softer targets than the estimated 1.1 million illegal migrants who live under the radar!
Britain is home to more than a million illegal migrants, a former Home Office chief admitted yesterday.
After years of denial across government, a senior official finally acknowledged that huge numbers of foreigners are living here ‘under the radar’.
David Wood, who was head of immigration enforcement until 2015, told MPs few of the illegals were ever likely to be sent home. They include visa overstayers, criminals who have escaped deportation, failed asylum seekers and those who have sneaked into the UK.
This is not just my indignation at the treatment of all of those who have contributed to our culture and economy as train drivers, nurses, doctors, teachers, shop owners and across all of the services we tend to take for granted. It is about my concern of where it goes next!
And whilst this might sound a little far fetched, as after all as the Prime Minister, Mrs. May has reiterated, the UK has a special relationship with Southern Ireland. I am a British Citizen, born in the UK of British parents, but many Irish have crossed that short stretch of water over the last couple of hundred years. Many of whom born after Independence, and who have lived and worked in Britain without obtaining citizenship.
With Brexit negotiations centering around the issue of the Irish Border… where might that lead those who have made their homes in the UK?
I am sure that the sheer numbers of Irish living in the UK who contribute billions to the economy each year will make sure that ‘special’ relationship stays intact. But for arguments sake, I would like to take a look at the contributions that not just the Irish but also are other Commonwealth countries and Dominions have made to our nation’s standing in the world.
Today, millions of residents of Great Britain are either from Ireland or have Irish ancestry. It is estimated that as many as six million people living in the UK have at least one Irish grandparent (around 10% of the UK population).
That includes me. My grandfather was Irish, fought in the First World War and died on November 2nd 1918 in action. As did 45,000 other Irish soldiers and sailors. My great grand-father enlisted in the Royal Navy at age 16 in 1868 and lived out his live until 1924 in the UK.
There is no agreement on the total number of Irish soldiers who served in the British Army and Navy in the First World War. Professor Keith Jeffery gives a figure of 210,000. There appears to be a consensus that at least 35,000 died though the figure on the National War Memorial is 49,400.
About 140,000 enlisted in Ireland during the war. The increase in 1918 is worth noting.
Full history of the Irish army involvement in World War 1: Irish enlistments WW1
This leads me to the 3.5 million British Empire and Dominions whose men and women fought side by side with British troops in all major theatres of WW2.
During the war the British Empire and Dominions raised a total of 8,586,000 men for military service. More than 5 million came from the British Isles, 1,440,500 from India, 629,000 from Canada, 413,000 from Australia, 136,000 from South Africa, 128,500 from New Zealand and more than 134,000 from other colonies.
Troops from the Dominions fought in all theatres where British troops were engaged. Canada was the site of the first British Commonwealth Air Training Scheme flying school, where many pilots from the Empire and Dominions were trained. Men from the Dominion air forces – Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and South African – were incorporated into the RAF. The Royal Australian Navy served in the Mediterranean and in the Far East, as did the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy. The Royal Canadian Navy made a significant contribution to Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic, providing escorts for convoys crossing between Canada and Britain.
Over two and a half million Indian men volunteered for service, producing the largest volunteer army in history. Many fought against the Japanese in Burma, but Indian soldiers also served in North and East Africa, Italy and Greece. The Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) fought against the Japanese, while Royal Indian Navy ships fought in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. There were around 40,000 Indian servicemen in the British Merchant Navy.
In the West Indies, thousands of men joined the local home guard and the British Army. They were eventually sent to Europe for training, but few were allowed to fight on the front line. Approximately 5,500 West Indian RAF personnel came to Britain in 1944-5. From 1944, West Indian women served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in Britain. Over 40,000 workers volunteered to live and work as agricultural labourers in the USA.
Source: BBC – People’s War
I have no issue with ensuring that there is a right to enter the country, to register for work, contribute to social security and tax. We should welcome those who will support the economy by paying for their own housing, food, clothing and other necessities (amounting to around £20,000 £30,000 per annum per person).
This brings me to something that I do believe we should consider when looking at the immigration issue.
Our own diverse ethnicity.
Certainly in the UK, Europe and North America, there are few of us who can claim that we are indigenous or true native to the region.
Lands have been simply moved into, as the ice receded or invaded as part of a land grab. Over many thousands of years there were no borders, and it was only when geographically borders appeared such as seas, and when power plays created territories, that we drew up the map we have today. Suddenly become labelled as belonging to that territory and no longer were we just classified as a human being.
My own diverse ethnicity
As an example of this I would like to share my origins going back 20,000 years.
I was born in the UK and I wanted to trace my origins whilst completing my family tree. And I found that I was diverse as they come.
This is my basic breakdown based on my DNA Ancestry test. My ancestral journey and I am a little bit Viking
This is a map of showing how far my ancestors travelled to where I ended up being born in the south of England.
Going back even further, based on my DNA results from Oxford Ancestry twenty years ago… I am descended from a woman, whose bones were found in the Southern France, Northern Spain region 20,000 years ago. Meet my great grandmother x 8 Helena
This diverse ethnicity of mine is mirrored in billions across the world, particularly in developed countries, whose economy, infrastructure and interracial melding, has benefited by creating a stronger, more resilient human population.
Our wealth and privilege today was largely built on the backs of our immigrant populations, and the sacrifice they made side by side with their new compatriots in the conflicts across the world.
Governments are very keen to quote amendments of constitutionsm and laws enacted over 250 years ago, but are only too keen to rewrite history, and bend the rights of minorities when it suits them. Unfortunately, it is not only leaders of nations and political parties who should be held accountable, but those they charge with enacting their pronouncements and promises.
The Civil Service is an institution that does not change with elections, or with the times, and it is there that I would suggest that the leaders now apologising for this current debacle, should focus their attentions.
Certainly, it is the Home Office who is responsible for managing our immigration policy and borders. With 1.1. million illegal immigrants to find and to review in regard to their status, I would think they have more than enough to be getting on with.
The Windrush Generation and all those who have contributed to making our various countries great deserve to be treated better.
Thank you for dropping in and reading my thoughts on this subject. Sally