EU citizens living in the UK may find themselves the focus of another Windrush-style scandal if they fail to apply for “settled status” – but it seems the first Windrush scandal isn’t over and people are still being deported.
According to The Independent:
EU nationals are in danger of slipping through the cracks of the government’s Brexit registration scheme and turning into another Windrush-style scandal, citizens’ groups have warned.
MPs on the EU future relationship committee were told by community groups that there was simply no way to tell whether how many people had been left out of the scheme because there were no accurate figures for how many were eligible.
EU nationals in the UK have been expected to sign up for “settled status” because of Brexit bringing an end to free movement, but campaigners have complained that the scheme is poorly designed and will leave some people behind.
There are concerns that some EU nationals – particularly vulnerable people – may not realise they need to register, and may find themselves being removed from the UK without understanding why.
This raises uncomfortable parallels with the Windrush scandal, in which documents showing that people had emigrated to the UK and had every right to be here were destroyed by the Conservative government.
The Tories then contacted these people, demanding proof of a right to live in the UK. When they could not produce it, they were deported.
And they still are.
Yes, government representatives have apologised; yes, they said it would not happen again. Either those Tories were mistaken or they were lying.
So we see twin brothers Darren and Darrell Roberts being threatened with deportation to two different countries after completing prison sentences because – despite having been born in the UK – the Tories say they have no legal status here.
Darren, 24, is being sent to Grenada because that’s where his mother was born; brother Darrell will go to the Dominican Republic in one of the errors for which the Home Office under the Tories is justly infamous – he has no family there because his father was born in Dominica, which is a completely different nation.
All children born in the UK are eligible for citizenship but there is an application process with attached costs, which have risen enormously in recent years. Some might argue that this has happened alongside the rise of overt racism in the UK’s government.
The correspondence received by Darrell is certainly racist; it offers him a financial incentive to “return home” – implying that his home must be a foreign country because he is black. This is a young man who was born in London and has lived in the UK for his entire life, remember.
Legally, the government will undoubtedly say it is well within its rights as neither brother has citizenship. But they were still minors when they were imprisoned and their childhood has been described as “traumatic”, so it may be unsurprising that no citizenship applications were completed for them.
Windrush was about sending black people “home” because they couldn’t prove they belonged in the UK. This is no different.
And what about jazz musician Bumi Thomas, who was born in 1983, after the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher passed their British Nationality Act that stripped automatic citizenship from children born to parents from UK colonies?
Despite having been born in Glasgow in 1983 and living in the UK solidly since 2000, she found herself fighting a -crowdfunded – legal battle to remain in the country of her birth.
An immigration tribunal judge has ruled in favour of withdrawing the threat of deportation, but she must wait two years before she can apply for British citizenship. Her status is still at the mercy of a divisive immigration policy – meaning her application may be turned down and she might have to go through this process all over again.
So it seems to This Writer that we should not be discussing the EU nationals’ registration scheme as “another Windrush”. The Windrush scandal is still going on.
EU nationals are merely in danger of joining the Windrush generations as victims of a racist UK government.
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