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“WARM WORDS” aren’t enough to make up for the government’s racist treatment of British citizens of Afro-Caribbean descent, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott stormed ahead of today’s 70th anniversary of the docking of the Empire Windrush ship at Tilbury docks.
Ms Abbott demanded that the government “come clean about the extent of the Windrush crisis that was created on their watch as a result of the hostile environment” immigration policies.
“While the government celebrates the contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants, we still do not know how many of our fellow citizens have been hounded out of their country, detained in immigration detention centres and left jobless and destitute.
“Our fellow citizens from the Windrush generation and their families have a right to know how many people have suffered at the hands of the Home Office.”
Ms Abbott has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid asking questions about the extent of the government’s racist campaign, which so far the Tories have kept secret.
“It is unacceptable and frankly scandalous that the extent of the Windrush crisis is yet to be revealed and that the Home Secretary is still to publish these figures,” she said.
“As the Windrush scandal shows, the hostile environment inevitably catches our fellow citizens who are legally entitled to be here in its net. The government now needs to stop covering up the true human cost of the hostile environment.”
She has asked him specifically to state how many people were deported, offered “voluntary” deportation, detained in immigration detention centres, refused their right of entry after trips abroad, lost their jobs, and denied access to public services and the NHS.
On June 22 1948 HMT Empire Windrush disembarked its passengers at Tilbury docks, bringing around 500 migrants from the Caribbean as part of a wave of people who helped rebuild Britain after the second world war and who were essential to the success of newly founded public services.
But, two months after Amber Rudd was forced to resign as home secretary over the illegal deportations, Ms Abbott’s questions about how much the Windrush generation and their descendants have suffered in the government’s “hostile environment” remain unanswered.
Mr Javid had promised to set up a “taskforce” and offer compensation.
Ms Abbott is now asking him how many cases the taskforce has resolved within the government’s two week deadline and how many people have had their rightful citizenship confirmed.
The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP also asked what progress has been made on the “review of lessons learned” that was promised by Prime Minister Theresa May last month.
In the letter to Mr Javid, she wrote: “Lessons can only be learnt if there is complete transparency regarding the causes and human impact of the Windrush crisis.
“Without this transparency the Windrush generation cannot have confidence that you have a grip on what is clearly a systemic problem at the Home Office.
“In order to make good on your promise to do right by the Windrush generation and begin to right this historic wrong, you must stop covering up the extent of the Windrush crisis and publish these figures.”
In April, Mr Javid pledged that he would “do right” by them “as a matter of urgency.”
In response Ms Abbott had called for the government to commit to reinstating protections for Commonwealth-born citizens that were revoked by Ms May when she was home secretary.
It has also been revealed that more than 60 people have wrongfully been deported.
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