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Windrush Scandal: 'Many families are still hurting'

SHOW OF SUPPORT: A coalition of organisations will hold a National Windrush Day of Action on February 23 next year

A NATIONAL day of action is to be held next year to highlight the plight of families still struggling with the impact of the Windrush scandal.

BAME Lawyers 4 Justice, a coalition of leading black legal and community organisations, which is behind the event is also demanding a public inquiry into how members of the Windrush Generation have been treated.

RESULT

A spokesperson for one of the organisations told The Voice: “We have seen families suffer as a result of the Windrush scandal. People have not been able to work legally for years.

“Families have been torn apart after a relative has been deported and others have been made homeless as a result of not being able to prove their British citizenship. The National Day of Action is crucial because many Windrush Generation members are still frightened to come forward and we must support them so we can get their citizenship status sorted.

The spokesperson added: “Our organisations are uniting for this event to make our voice on this issue stronger and more powerful.”

The Windrush National Day of Action was launched at a conference last week. It was held on November 16 at Nottingham University by BAME Lawyers 4 Justice, a coalition of leading black organisations which include Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, Blaksox, Operation Black Vote, (OBV), Society of Black Lawyers, (SBL), Momentum Black Caucus and Windrush Movement UK.

The day of action, to be held on Saturday, February 23, 2019, will coincide with the United Nations International Day for Social Justice. It will consist of a series of regional marches in city cen- tre areas as well as encouraging members of the public to sign a national petition calling on the government to impose no caps or limits on financial compensation for victims and a public inquiry into the Windrush scandal.

BAME Lawyers 4 Justice are working with Windrush Action Groups in the major cities where there is a large black population. On the day there will be events organised by local Windrush Action Groups in London, Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds and Birmingham.

ANGER

However, it is expected that more locations will be added before the event takes place next year. Speaking at the conference, chair and trustee of Operation Black Vote, David Weaver, said: "The government needs to recognise the anger, tragedy and despair caused by this unprecedented and gross violation of black British citizens' human rights.

This conference puts the government on notice that victims will not be silenced or intimidated by the racism they’ve faced, on the contrary both Windrush victims and the county at large are rightly appalled at the treatment they’ve been forced to endure.

“This conference reaffirms the demand for no cap or limit on the compensation to victims and the urgent need to reform immigration legislation to ensure this never happens again.”

Jaqueline McKenzie, a leading Windrush solicitor who also spoke at the conference, said it was important to "put the Windrush scandal within the context of the wider experiences of racism which continues to emanate from so many organisations and institutions and now with the rise of the far right, with increasing sections of society."

She added: "The Windrush scandal is a major one and is as offensive as it is devastating to that generation of people who gave so much to the UK including to the families of those who have died or were deported.

"There are other equally disgraceful practices in the immigration rules and policies which includes the continued decoration of people to countries they don't know, the forced warehousing of people in hostile dentition centres without time limits, the continued separation of families through onerous English language and fee requirements, the detention of non-visa national holidaymakers for spurious reasons, the exorbitant profit making fees and surcharges which increase yearly and the discriminatory treatment of children born in he UK to non-British parents who remain undocumented.”

Speaking about the calls for a public inquiry, Dr Rev Desmond Jaddoo, of Windrush Movement UK, one of the groups behind the day of action said: “The way in which the Windrush Generation has been treated by successive governments since 1948 needs to be examined. People from this generation, including my own parents, came here as British citizens.

“They came here with British passports. They were then robbed of those passports. And then in 1981 they were told, ‘Pay a sum of money and you can get your citizenship back and then you can apply for a passport.’”

HOSTILE

He added: “When you add this to the introduction of the hostile environment policies you see how immigrants from the West Indies have been disproportionately affected by the mis-application of immigration laws. “And we need to find out why that was.

“A public inquiry will highlight the discrimination that African and Caribbean immigrants have faced and ensure that the appropriate legislative protection is permanently given to members of the Windrush Generation.”

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