The government’s past few years of immigration policy have been cruel and inhumane, as highlighted by the Windrush Scandal. The arbitrary target to cut immigration to the tens of thousands has spawned some nasty and unexpected consequences. The ‘hostile environment’ policy adopted whilst Theresa May was Home Secretary is the culmination of the path this government has ardently pursued, and has attempted to make it as difficult as possible to live in the UK without having the appropriate documentation to prove a right to remain.
The Windrush Scandal has developed from such a policy. People came to the UK from the Commonwealth following World War Two to settle and work; however, many of these people, especially minors, did not apply for British passports or official documents to show their right to live in the UK. Anyone from the Commonwealth who arrived in the UK before 1971 had a right to British citizenship but, due to the hostile policy, many of these people have been asked to prove their right to remain here after decades of living in the UK.
Imagine living in a country you have called home for decades only for a letter demanding you prove you have the right to live here or you will be deported. This is the situation thousands of individuals have had to face. Most of these people have spent their entire lives contributing to society and communities; to call into question their citizenship is a point of shame that the government should and must bear. It is a gut-wrenching experience to be so profoundly neglected and shunned by the nation you have lived in and paid your dues. To be denied the right to access healthcare and the right to work for the sake of meeting migration targets is disgusting.
“The Windrush Scandal has directly developed from government policy”
The government’s handling of the scandal has been dire to say the least. The now former Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was either incompetent or deceitful – in reality probably both. She failed to comprehend the nature and scale of the problem, not only when it was raised with her last year, but also as the scandal has developed this year. The government have failed to go far enough to show genuine contrition for the pain they have caused, nor done enough to resolve the situation for the thousands of people who have been affected. The Home Office is a notoriously difficult department to manage, and Amber Rudd essentially admitted this herself by saying that she was focusing so much on counter-terrorism that she took her eye off the ball with immigration. Ultimately, if the safety of the country is the Home Office’s greatest priority, and a massive job in and of itself, it might be time to consider separating one of great offices of state in two – not only for the benefit of the poor Member of Parliament left to the run the department, but also for the country as a whole.
A further consequence of the government’s attempts to slash immigration to ‘acceptable’ levels is that the government has refused entry to the UK of thousands of highly skilled migrants, as they have already filled quotas for the month. This is an entirely ludicrous and illogical position for the government to take. There have been approximately 5,000 doctors who have been refused entry into the UK due to these quotas. The NHS has been faced with one of the trickiest periods in its existence: it has severe staff shortages, and hospital trusts have, quite rightly, been recruiting from abroad to fill these gaps so the NHS is able to continue to provide an amazing service.
“Not enough has been done to resolve the situation for the thousands affected”
The government, on the one hand, claims it is doing everything possible to support the NHS through this difficult time, and yet on the other hand is actively preventing doctors entering the country. The NHS have recognised the importance of getting qualified staff in place as quickly as possible to support the health service; it’s a shame that the government have been unable to recognize this fact despite the NHS falling apart around them. Regardless of whatever immigration targets the government has foolishly tied its hands to, it should be brave enough to say we need doctors urgently and that it is committed to sorting this problem.
The road the government has decided to follow on immigration will not benefit anyone. It is preventing doctors from doing their jobs and simultaneously has thrown the lives of thousands into chaos. Many citizens voted for Brexit so the UK could take control of its borders the Windrush scandal shows the government can’t be trusted to control our borders as it is, let alone once Brexit actually happens.