by dan ehrlich
Grenada native Dexter Bristol, who had lived in the UK since he was 8-years-old, may be the first fatality of the current British immigration fiasco that has involved countless members of the so called “Windrush Generation.”
Mr. Bristol was fired from his cleaning job last year because he had no passport and was later denied benefits because he was not able to provide documents proving his right to live in the UK.
He reportedly spent the last year trying and failing to get documentation allowing him to work.
On 31 March, he collapsed on the street outside his house and died. The cause of his death is unknown pending an inquest…but a broken heart malnutrition and depression are suspect.
His former lawyer, Jacqueline McKenzie, said Home Office delays in processing his requests for his records contributed to his depression and breached its own rules. “I’m heartbroken. We went to extreme lengths to try to get this sorted out,” she said.
Bristol was one of hundreds of Afro-Caribbean British citizens who either now have no proper proof of citizenship or had their records destroyed en mass by the British Home Office is a recently exposed scandal. As part of the UK Government’s climbdown, Prime Minister Theresa May has said that members of the Windrush generation who have been treated unfairly by the Home Office are to be compensated “where appropriate”.
The PM said money will be offered to resolve “anxieties and problems”.
Some immigrants who came to the UK from the Commonwealth decades ago have been threatened with deportation or refused jobs and healthcare,
May’s first public mention of remuneration came at a news conference at the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in London on Friday.
She said: “On Tuesday, I met with Caribbean leaders, where I gave an absolute commitment that the UK government will do whatever it takes – including where appropriate payment of compensation – to resolve the anxieties and problems which some of the Windrush generation have suffered.
“These people are British, they are part of us, they helped to build Britain and we are all the stronger for their contributions,”she said.
But what is the Windrush Generation? After WW2, with British manpower depleted, the UK government invited Empire subjects to immigrate to Britain as citizens. The first ship to transport people from the Caribbean was a captured German troop carrier which was renamed the Empire Windrush in 1947.
The reason that the name of the Windrush became synonymous with the wave of migration that began in the late 40s and early 50s is down to the fact that the ship happened to be picking up servicemen on leave in Jamaica in 1948, just after the British Nationality Act 1948 had been passed.
This gave citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies statues to everyone who was a British subject who was connected with the UK or a British colony.
The ship was going to be sailing fairly empty from Jamaica’s capital Kingston, so an advert was put out asking for anyone who wanted to take advantage of cheap passage to come and work in England.
A total of 492 people took up the initial offer and headed to the UK. This began a wave of immigration from the Caribbean and, according to the National Archives , between 1948 and 1970 nearly half a million people left their homes in the West Indies to live in Britain.
This generation became known as the ‘Windrush Generation’ after the ship that sparked the influx. Today that half million has multiplied several times.
The current immigration scandal is rooted in Prime Minister Theresa May’s former tenure as home secretary. Then she tightened up immigration laws that seemed to give a green light to the UK bureaucracy. It began informing hundreds of legal UK residents and citizens that if they couldn’t prove their status they would be deported.
Some people visiting relatives back in the Caribbean have been stopped from returning to the UK because they didn’t have all the documentation now required.
Yet, this outrageous mess, which seems to go hand in hand with the bureaucratic foot dragging in hurricane recovery efforts at British Caribbean territories, has become a major political issue and embarrassment for the government.
The eruption of the Windrush scandal, as it has become known, has sparked a fierce national debate over immigration and the status of those who arrived from the Caribbean before 1973.
The government has now issued an apology over its treatment of the “Windrush Generation,” people who are being ordered to prove they have the right to stay in Britain – even though they have been here over 50 years.