In the UK, the scandal of the “Windrush generation” victim of “institutional racism”

Protesters from Global Justice Now denounce the treatment of the Windrush generation by the government, in London, on April 30, 2018.
Global Justice Now protesters denounce government treatment of the Windrush generation in London on April 30, 2018. DAVID MIRZOEFF / GLOBAL JUSTICE NOW / CC BY 2.0


This is the story of a scandal: that of the “Windrush generation”, which has rocked British society for the past two years and which has fueled the resentment of part of it – especially the blacks, who today accuse the administration of the country to be institutionally racist.

Thursday, March 19, was released an independent report denouncing the grave mistakes of the British Home Office, which for years threatened hundreds of Caribbean nationals who arrived between the 1950s without valid reason and 1970 and having lived their whole lives in the United Kingdom.

These people have sometimes lost their jobs, have been denied their right to free healthcare from the NHS, the British healthcare system. Some have even been deported. The ministry behaved in a manner "Careless and without understanding", and his "Failures correspond in part to what characterizes institutional racism", Lawyer and Inspector General Wendy Williams concluded in her report.

Often poignant personal journeys

Who were the members of the so-called "Windrush generation" and what exactly happened to them? They are mostly people from the Caribbean, considered, when they were invited in mass to come to work in the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1973, like "CUKC" (Citizens of the UK and Colonies). Over 800 of them had crossed the Atlantic on a liner called the ’Empire Windrush, who landed on June 22, 1948 at Tilbury, below London. Many young men came to work in factories lacking arms. We made it the symbol of a generation.

Read also United Kingdom: what is the "Windrush generation"?

A 1971 law ensured that people from the Commonwealth who arrived before 1973 had the right to reside in the United Kingdom, but the Windrush generation was not systematically offered written documents attesting to these rights. The Interior Ministry has also failed to maintain evidence of their status. Those who did not renew their residence request were therefore often unable to prove their right to remain in the United Kingdom "Even though in most cases they had not known any other country", specifies the report.

As successive British governments, especially since the 2000s, tightened laws to discourage illegal migration, hundreds of people were denied their jobs, driver's licenses, lost their apartments or their access care, for lack of being able to produce a right of residence, or of obtaining a British passport. "The disparity in ministry data and the difficulty in contacting everyone means that the exact number of those affected is unknown. (…) But a study in the interior ministry in 2014 estimates that there may be 500,000 people in the country struggling to prove their status, " explains the report.


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