Author- CEREN SAGIR
WINDRUSH was no accident but a result of “scapegoating and scaremongering,” the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) said today after a review into the scandal was leaked.
The independent draft review, seen by the JCWI and Channel 4 News, found that the Home Office was “reckless” for failing to monitor the impact of its hostile environment immigration policy — in particular in housing.
It found that the government department is failing in its legal duty to counter radical discrimination, and ministers have wilfully ignored evidence and failed to come clean with the public about the risks of their policies.
JCWI chief executive Satbir Singh said the review confirms that “Windrush was no accident, but the inevitable result of a broken immigration system, driven by the divisive politics of scapegoating and scaremongering.”
He said: “JCWI warned the government repeatedly that the Home Office and immigration system are not fit for purpose, and the hostile environment was a failure. In February we proved in the High Court that landlord immigration checks cause racial discrimination.
“After today there is nowhere left to hide. The Tory leadership candidates must pledge to scrap the hostile environment, repeal right to rent, and rebuild the immigration system from the ground up.”
He said the JCWI expects the government to release the full report without delay so that “we can begin finally to build a humane, fair and functional immigration system.”
Home Office staff at all levels need to be educated on Britain’s own history, including its colonial past, the report urged. It says ministers should also admit that this was not just an operational issue but that they were wrong at the policy level and should unequivocally apologise.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott also called for the end of the hostile environment policy.
She said: “This damning review details the terrible experiences of many of the Windrush generation under the Tories’ cruel and degrading hostile environment.
“The government is still failing to address the injustices they have caused. British citizens have lost their jobs, lost their homes and been deported.”
Labour MP David Lammy warned that it is vital the next prime minister learns the lessons and immediately scraps the immigration policies concerned.
He said: “The Home Office’s immigration policy is rooted in an arrogant ignorance of our own colonial past.
“The review reportedly shows some ministers did not even know where the Caribbean was. Yet the department continues to blame the victims for their own detention and deportation.
“Theresa May’s only lasting legacy will be as the architect of a hostile environment which abused and violated black British citizens. The reforms she introduced in 2014 and 2016 are a colonial hangover that sapped her government of any moral authority.”
The government’s claims that Windrush was unforeseen or unavoidable, or the fault of the victims, are rebutted in the report. It instead blames a negative Home Office culture which defends, deflects and dismisses criticism.
Inspector of constabulary Wendy Williams, who led the review, said that there was a “defensive culture that results in an unwillingness to learn from past mistakes.”
A Home Office spokesman said the department does not comment on leaked documents.