Why is Wales so silent on the Windrush scandal?
Leena Sarah Farhat, Diversity officer for the Welsh Liberal Democrats
You may have heard the word mentioned. Windrush, the generation, the scandal and the ongoing pain to a group of people who came to the UK with the best of intentions.
Between 1948 and 1970, nearly half a million people moved from the Caribbean to Britain, which in 1948 faced severe labour shortages in the wake of the Second World War. These immigrants were later referred to as ‘the Windrush generation’.
Despite their British citizenship, it became apparent that in 2018 many had been wrongly detained, denied their legal rights, denied benefits and medical care, and deported.
So, what is the latest on this government-created, institutionally racist scandal? On Monday, a Home Office flight deporting convicted offenders to Jamaica left the UK. Some had grown up in the UK and it was the only home they had ever known.
The British government tried to offload its own criminals onto another nation. How very colonial!
The deportations happened despite a last-minute legal challenge and court ruling. Lawyers had argued that mobile phone signal problems meant some of the detainees could not get legal advice.
Downing Street said 17 people were deported, but 25 others had been stopped because of the court order.
Campaigners have argued that all deportation flights of this nature should be suspended until a report on the Windrush scandal has been published.
The Liberal Democrats have also campaigned to scrap that clause in the Data Protection Bill that means that if another Windrush scandal happened, the Home Office could cover it up.
We believe that responsibility for processing applications for citizenship for Windrush generation people or any victims of British imperialism of that generation should be moved out of the Home Office altogether, into a dedicated, non-political unit. Applicants should be treated humanely and be given the support they need to prove their right to citizenship.
What has been very concerning has been the lack of Welsh voices speaking up to condemn what is happening.
Over this past summer, I was lucky enough to hear from some of the Windrush generation who settled in Llanelli and in Newport respectively. I recall walking out of the event to some amazing traditional Caribbean music and dancing, but I cried.
I remembered the way that my own family talk about British imperialism and the impact that it had and continues to have on my family today. Even today, generations later, we have not fully decolonized our mindset.
Those from the Windrush generation feel that they have given the best years of our lives to the UK/Wales who have then gone on to deny their official existence.
They told me that they are one of the many communities that devolution forgot. Despite being just a hundred feet or so from some of the most diverse communities in Wales, the Senedd has remained largely deaf to their concerns. We have built our political voice in Cardiff Bay but they remain voiceless.
I have yet to hear a voice in Wales talk about this so I will, and that is the Welsh Liberal Democrat way – to build a brighter future and create an open and tolerant Wales.
I urge other parties in Wales at all relevant levels of government to do the same.
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