The Windrush generation, Britain’s “Dreamers”?
The Windrush generation were a multitude of Caribbean citizens who immigrated to the United Kingdom during the 1950s and 60s. Many of them took up work, settled down and had families here in Britain. Their welcome was not always hospitable, with many movements in Britain emerging, which sought to segregate them from the rest of society. An example of the outcry against integration was seen through Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968. The speech predicted huge social upheaval as a result of supposed racial disharmony. At the time, 47% of the nation agreed with Powell, and the man received 43,000 letters of support with only 800 letters criticising him. A plethora of race riots also took place due to the resettlement of the Windrush generation, most famously in Notting Hill.
The issue originates from the free movement of people from the Commonwealth to the “mother country”. The immigrants that came to Britain were, in a sense, considered “guest workers” similar to those that went to West Germany, as there was the expectation that they would help to rebuild the country and Britain’s economy after the Second World War. However, they were not formally given British citizenship under the 1971 Immigration Act - merely the indefinite “right to remain” which allowed them to stay in the country. This meant that they did not receive any documents proving their right to residence from the government, making their lives significantly more difficult.
Many of the now elderly Windrush generation have recently been denied critical health services. Not only do the 50,000 long term UK residents facing deportation, but the 3.7 million EU citizens who currently live in the UK. That is over 6% of the population. However the UK deals with these immigrants will set precedence for EU citizens post Brexit.
The job Amber Rudd has to face is reforming the Home Office’s treatment of those who unmistakably British but have been denied proper citizenship. In the US the children of Mexican immigrants were given an amnesty by Obama, known as DACA. Perhaps these “British Dreamers” could receive similar treatment.