This is because the government has known for years about the impact of its “hostile environment” policy on the Windrush generation.
A letter dated May 2016 and obtained by the Guardian, was sent by immigration minister from 2014 to 2016, James Brokenshire in response to Labour MP Kate Hoey who had raised with the minister, the case of her constituent Trevor Johnson and his brother Desmond who travelled to England as boys from Jamaica in 1971, and have had their lives wrecked by the UK's 'hostile environment' policies.
Trevor has faced threats of deportation, while Desmond has not been allowed to visit Britain, where he has a daughter as well as a brother, since he went back to Jamaica for his father’s funeral in 2001. Desmond has not seen his daughter for 16 years.
The letter set out that Johnson was liable to be deported despite having lived in Britain for 45 years because he could not show that he had arrived before 1973, when the law changed. Nor could he provide the documentary evidence the Home Office demanded of continuous residence over other periods in the 1980s and 1990s.
In 2014 he was told he was in the UK illegally, and his benefits were stopped.
Brokenshire – who is now on the backbenches and has been receiving treatment for lung cancer – told ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme that he had never seen the letter before.
He said, however, that he had always tried to be compassionate. “We did, as a Home Office, look compassionately over a number of individual cases. And you do try to make the right decisions. It is about being firm but fair. And I think that’s the issue that’s been striking for me.”
According to the Guardian, "ministers insist that the Windrush victims are suffering from a failure at official level, not from a bad policy in and of itself. The justice secretary, David Gauke, has said that the flaws were in the implementation.
“It is right that we take illegal immigration seriously – of course I stress we are not talking about illegal immigrants in the Windrush case – but it is perfectly reasonable to, for example, want to ensure that when we are providing public services they are being provided to people who are entitled to them,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show."
A former cabinet minister, Sayeeda Warsi, told the Guardian that there was bitter opposition in cabinet to some of the policies May pursued while she was home secretary between 2010 and 2016.
Warsi, who is also a former Conservative party chair, told ITV’s Peston on Sunday it was a failed policy caused by the party’s obsession with bringing down net migration. “I think we were all responsible. I would hold myself responsible as part of the government,” she said.
“What happened unfortunately during those years and has continued is that we had an unhealthy obsession with numbers. We were wedded to unrealistic targets, targets that we still haven’t met unfortunately a decade on, and yet we continue to remain wedded to targets.
“And what we ended up with was, I think, the unintended consequences of the policy we are now implementing.”
The shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, told Nick Robinson on the Marr show that there was something “rotten at the heart of government”, and called for Rudd to resign. She said: “People have died, people have lost their jobs, lost their futures. People working in the National Health Service all their lives suddenly lose their jobs.
“It could not be worse and yet the home secretary thinks, ‘I can apologise and it will be all right.’ Well, it won’t be. I really think she should quit.”
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the civil rights organisation Liberty are demanding that an independent commission is be set up to review the workings of the Home Office and the legal framework of the “hostile environment” policy.
After an unsatisfactory meeting with May last week where they say there was no sign that there would be a proper investigation, the two organisations have released a dossier written in 2014 showing clearly how many warnings the government received about the impact of its policies.
In further evidence that the government has been aware for many years of the problems experienced by children of Windrush immigrants, a blog from as long ago as May 2013, written by a Foreign Office official responsible for resettling deported Jamaicans, is still on the ministry’s website. “Many consider themselves British, having moved to the UK as a young child with their parents or grandparents and granted indefinite leave to remain [ILR].”
The blog does not address policy issues, but it shows clearly that there were recognised and worrying issues related to Home Office policy.
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