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140 MPs unite to urge PM to act on Windrush 'crisis'

ACTION NEEDED: Theresa May

TODAY (APR 16), in a letter coordinated by David Lammy, 140 MPs from six parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Green) have called on the Prime Minister to deal with the “crisis” facing British residents who arrived in Britain from the Caribbean prior to 1973 – many of whom arrived as minors during the ‘Windrush’ migration post World War II.

The letter comes as the Government prepares to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London today. The issue threatens to cause a significant diplomatic incident that could overshadow the meeting after Downing Street rejected a formal diplomatic request to discuss the problems being faced by some Windrush-generation British residents.

The letter is supported by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Yvette Cooper MP and senior Conservative MPs Sarah Wollaston MP, Peter Bottomley MP and Bob Blackman MP.

A petition calling for an amnesty, a change in the burden of proof and compensation for those affected has gained over 126,465 signatures in a week. The petition will therefore be considered for a debate in Parliament, however the MPs are calling on the Prime Minister to “ensure that this is addressed with the utmost urgency in advance of any such debate”.

Jeremy Corbyn raised the case of Albert Thompson – a Londoner asked to pay £54,000 for cancer treatment despite having lived in the UK for 44 years – at Prime Ministers’ Questions last month/

David Lammy MP, Chair of the Race and Community All Party Parliamentary Group who is leading the campaign in Parliament said: “What is going on is grotesque, immoral and inhumane. It is a stain on our nation’s conscience and the Prime Minister must act urgently to right this historic wrong.

"After World War II we invited the Windrush Generation over as citizens to help rebuild our country, and now their children are being treated like criminals.

"The government is essentially stripping people of the rights that our government itself granted decades ago. These individuals have done nothing wrong and there is no basis upon which the Home Office can justify what they are doing.

"Some of the cases that have caught the public’s attention are truly heart-breaking. These individuals have lived in this country for decades – working hard, paying taxes, raising their families and contributing so much to our country.

"The Home Office is treating these individuals like criminals whenever they come into contact with the state and this situation has left thousands of people too scared and anxious to seek to clarify their own status for fear that they will be stripped of their status or deported back to a country that they have no memory of and is certainly not their home. Their home is here.

"The government must immediately guarantee that anyone who comes forward to clarify their status should not face deportation or detention, because as things stand today there are thousands of people who are too worried about their future to come forward.

"I am campaigning for an amnesty but in reality it would not be an amnesty because that word implies wrongdoing. The government must simply do the right thing, establish a humane route to clarifying their status in this country, change the burden of proof to stop all threats of deportation or the removal of rights and treat these people with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”

Sally Daghlian OBE, CEO, Praxis, commented: "Praxis sees at first hand the devastating effect of these policies on people's lives and the Herculean task of trying to meet the evidence requirements of the Home Office to prove long standing residence. The government must create a fast, fair and free system to protect and help people in this situation. "

Dr Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust, added: "Runnymede is shocked and surprised that long-standing Caribbean residents are being treated so inhumanely and unjustly after they have contributed so much to Britain.

"It can't be right that 50 years after Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech that Commonwealth residents are being threatened with deportation and having their rights and Britishness questioned.

"We call on the government to act humanely and swiftly, to support rather than harass these long-standing migrants, many of whom are British citizens, in providing the documentation the Home Office has only recently and retrospectively decided they need."

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