The United Kingdom will provide thousands of individuals from Jamaican & the Caribbean with legal status, the government announced. These people, known as the “Windrush generation,” are those who came to the UK between the years of 1948 and 1971. The name refers to the ship MC Empire Windrush that arrived in Essex carrying workers from several Caribbean countries to fill job vacancies in the UK. The largest percentage were from Jamaica. The ship carried a reported 492 people. many of whom were children.
Many of the individuals who traveled to the UK during this period have since been detained or deported following their inability to provide documents showing they were legitimate residents of the UK. Now, however, Amber Rudd, UK Home Secretary, stated that a team will be formed to work with the people who need their status legalized.
Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, also apologized for the treatment the Windrush generation has received. Meeting with Caribbean leaders, May said, “The home secretary apologized in the House of Commons yesterday for any anxiety caused. And I want to apologize to you today. Because we are genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused.” She went on to say that the people who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean before 1973 and lived in the country permanently over the past 30 years have the right to remain in the UK. “I don’t want anybody to be in any doubt about their right to remain here in the United Kingdom,” she said.
People in the Windrush generation have experienced difficulties with their residence status since 2012, when immigration laws changed in the UK and required people to show documentation to work, rent property, or gain access to benefits like healthcare. Those who do not have such documentation were informed that they could not continue working, receive treatment through the National Health Service, or even stay in the country. The newly organized government task force will now work with them to legalize their status.
Windrush is celebrated every year with ceremonies to commemorate the arrival of the workers 70 years ago. A model of the ship on which they traveled was featured in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The lead-up to Windrush Day, June 22, 2018, will feature exhibits, church services, and other cultural events.
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