Windrush Day 2022

22 June 2022

What are we celebrating?

The 22nd June is now officially the day we “celebrate” Windrush. As I have written previously, it is also to recognise the catastrophic mistake made by the government when they wrongly denied people the right to stay in the UK. The Windrush Report was commissioned to investigate how the immigration services managed to make such a huge mistake and gave recommendations with a view to those mistakes not happening again. I would argue that the government does not seem to have incorporated the recommendations from the report, which is incredibly disappointing.

One example is current immigration policy. Particularly when you review the Nationality & Borders Act 2022, which has brought in further draconian legislation such as allowing the government to revoke British Nationality without your knowledge. I cannot even begin to discuss the Rwanda Policy. But for those who might not be aware, on the 14th April the government announced the Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) deal with Rwanda, whereby asylum seekers arriving in the UK would be sent to Rwanda and have their cases processed there and if successful would remain there to settle. Not sure what happens if their case fails?

The Windrush disaster was due to the immigration policy changes over the years. Whilst the report gave several recommendations, there were essentially three parts:

“The Home Office must acknowledge the wrong which has been done; it must open itself up to greater external scrutiny; and must change its culture to recognise that migration and wider Home Office policy is about people and, whatever its objective, should be rooted in humanity.” [Windrush Report, page 136]

Do you think the government used the above statement when they considered the Rwanda Policy? The government cite that the Policy is to deter migrants from crossing the channel. Is it really? Or is it simply financial reward for Rwanda. Tom Pursglove, the Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal immigration, told the Home Affairs Committee that the cost, from taxpayers, would be the same to send refugees to Rwanda as it would be here. So why do it? By the way the government has earmarked an initial £120 million for the scheme. In addition, Andrew Mitchell, Conservative MP, commented that it would be cheaper to put those arriving in the UK up at the Ritz for a year and went on to describe the scheme as being incredibly expensive for the UK.

So, whilst the government admitted that the concept behind Rwanda is to act as a deterrent, there is no way to actually quantify such a statement.

How can it be right that those seeking protection in the UK, who are already fleeing from distressing circumstances, arrive here and are then sent on a fight over 4,000 miles away! As lawyers we appreciate and are grateful, firstly for the lawyers who brought the action against the Secretary of State and for the European Court of Human Rights which intervened and paused the flights until the full judicial review challenge is heard in July.

You might be reading this and wondering what does this have to do with Windrush? It was the draconian immigration policy that led to Windrush and I submit that the government’s attitude towards migration has not changed. The cost of the aborted chartered flights has already cost hundreds of thousands. The Home Office is not open to protecting people and clearly has not taken on board the recommendations from the Windrush Report. Of course, they would counter with: look what we have done for Ukraine which of course is right as it is the largest displacement of people in Europe in this century, but draws into question the dissimilar treatment of people fleeing other countries. 

Even on this day, at least in part in an apparent knee jerk reaction to the ECHR’s intervention on the Rwanda flights, the government are set to introduce a new Bill of Rights, to replace the Human Rights Act. 

So as we celebrate Windrush Day, more needs to be done. The government needs to be accountable for their actions and not change laws to suit their own mission.

Further information

If you have any questions regarding the blog above, please contact Marcia Longdon in our immigration team. 

About the author

Marcia joined as a partner in the immigration team in January 2014. She has practised in the area of immigration, nationality and European law since 1998. She has had a long career in the field of immigration and is incredibly passionate about this area of law. She has won a number of challenges against the Home Office regarding complex cases, which have resulted in discretionary leave for her clients.

 

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