The group comprising close to ninety MPs are contending that the Home Office routinely discriminates against British citizens on the basis of their racial composition, and this they say is unlawful.
Chairman of the all party parliamentary group on race and community David Lammy has written to the head of the EHRC, maintaining that the introduction and the operation of the hostile environment shows beyond all doubt that government “does not take its stated commitment to race and equality seriously.”
In his letter, Lammy said : “The gross mishandling and abuse of the Windrush generation by the Home Office raises serious questions over whether British citizens were discriminated against on the basis of their race and ethnicity, in breach of equalities legislation.
“More than a year after I first raised this in parliament, nothing has changed. Justice must mean not only due compensation and reparation, but changes to the institution and immigration laws that created this crisis. This is why we are calling on the EHRC to investigate the Home Office and, in particular, the hostile environment legislation, which appears to have led to discriminatory treatment against ethnic minority British citizens,” Lammy contended.
The letter to the EHRC maintained that “Many of the most grievous abuses suffered by the Windrush generation occurred as a direct result of the government’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy.”
The MPs want the watchdog body to determine whether the Home Office is discriminating against Windrush generation and all minority ethnic Britons. In addition, it wants the body to assess whether the Home Office has “wilfully” disregarded its public sector equality duty, such as the transfer of immigration functions to private citizens and non-immigration personnel.
“The Home Office has not taken action to prevent race being used as a proxy for suspect immigration status by the people and agencies tasked with implementing the ‘hostile environment’, and, therefore, black Britons are routinely being discriminated against as they exercise their civil rights,” the letter says. “Clearly, this policy is deeply discriminatory when it is black Britons who are being treated in this way, while white Britons are not.”
MPs have asked the EHRC to investigate whether the implementation of hostile environment policies constitutes institutional racism, defined by the Macpherson report as “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour ... It can be detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice ... and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”
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