Former Hackney councillor Patrick Vernon has submitted a petition to the government calling for amnesty from deportation for people who migrated to Britain as children between 1948 and 1971.
If enough signatures are gained then the issue will be put forward for discussion in Parliament.
Thousands of people who have grown up in the UK since moving with their families from Commonwealth nations – particularly the Caribbean – as part of the Windrush generation of immigrants are now facing “uncertainty” and a “lack of clarity and justice”, according to Mr Vernon.
Despite being granted as minors the right to stay indefinitely in Britain under the terms of the Immigration Act 1971, a number of people have recently been contacted by the Home Office with threats of deportation because they do not hold the proper documentation to prove their immigration status.
Mr Vernon said: “We call on the government to stop all deportations, change the burden of proof and establish an amnesty for anyone who was a minor that arrived In Britain between 1948 and 1971 to a permanent right of abode.
“The Windrush generation and other migrant communities have made a significant contribution to the economic, social, political and spiritual life of Great Britain.
“Successive changes in immigration policy and legislation over the last 70 years, along with the independence of countries which now form part of the Commonwealth, have created uncertainty and lack of clarity and justice for tens of thousands of individuals who have worked hard, paid their taxes and raised children and grandchildren and who see Britain as their home.”
He also wants the government to provide compensation to those who have “experienced lack of medical treatment from the NHS, being made homeless, mental distress and financial loss because of Home Office actions”.
Tighter immigration controls enacted in recent years by the Home Office have caused further issues for Windrush migrants unable to produce the required documentary proof when trying to access employment, the NHS and local authority services.
The Windrush generation – so-named after the ship which first brought Jamaican migrants to settle in the UK in 1948 – has formed a significant part of modern British multicultural society, with many Caribbean families finding a new home on these shores in the years since.
Passengers from the Empire Windrush – a former German troopship seized by the British after WW2 – were depicted in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics in a celebration of groups that have contributed to the contemporary social and cultural makeup of the country.
Mr Vernon’s petition has so far received over 57k signatures, and looks on course to reach the 100k needed to bring the issue before Parliament.
Update (5:00pm, Thursday 19th April):
Patrick Vernon’s petition now holds over 170,000 signatures, well over the 100k threshold.
As such and given other recent revelations about the treatment of Windrush generation citizens, a parliamentary debate on the issue has been scheduled for 30 April at 4:30pm.
This will be opened by Steve Double (Petitions Committee member and Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay) and broadcast on the Parliament Live online service.
You can still view and sign Patrick Vernon OBE’s petition here on the government’s petition website