Attendees at the PCS Wales AGM on 28 June were greatly affected by the presentation given by Virgo Consultancy Services lawyer Hilary Brown, detailing the hardships suffered by many people who have lived in this country for decades: wrongful imprisonment, losing their jobs or homes, being denied benefits or medical care and harassed and threatened with deportation.
The phrase “Windrush generation” is used to identify the large numbers of people who were encouraged to come to the country from the Commonwealth, to help with the UK’s chronic shortage of workers following the second world war. Those workers have since stayed in the country, paying their taxes, contributing to the economy and raising children and grandchildren here. There are also many first and second generation children – aged around 50 – whose birth certificates don’t give them the right to a UK passport, and they too have been affected by this scandal.
Readers may be aware that a new approach was signalled towards immigrants from 2010, under the guidance of then Home Secretary Theresa May – “The aim is to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants”. You may remember the “Go Home” vans of the time; you may not be aware that from 2011 to 2017 “the BBC reported that the Home Office had made a profit of more than £800m from nationality services”. That intent to target illegal immigrants has spilled over into all immigrants and even legal residents.
You may also have seen in the news (BBC, 4 May 2018) that for a while the Home Office was threatening to expel 84 year old Stanford Robinson of Llanishen; a resident of the UK for 63 years during which time he raised six children, one of whom is Steve Robinson, former world featherweight boxing champion.
Costs of obtaining your residency can stretch into the thousands, whereas it used to incur a fee of £40. Lawyers meanwhile, under the graduated fees scheme, are limited to claiming £400 per case whereas 12 years ago that could be as much as £2000. Other legal pressures include injunctions against expulsion being refused by high court judges, and lawyers being struck off on technicalities after supporting those affected.
If you are aware of anyone affected you should encourage them to seek legal advice. A lawyer can help them challenge any unfair restrictions imposed, get them a biometric residence permit or the UK passport, or help seek compensation. As this particular scandal shows signs of being brought to order, the wider approach to immigration only promises more such scandals.