Sat, 2 March 2024

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Theresa May to meet with Caribbean leaders in major climbdown over Windrush children

3 min read

Theresa May is to meet with Caribbean leaders to discuss the plight of immigrants who arrived in the UK more than 50 years ago - as it emerged that some have been deported by mistake.

The Prime Minister agreed to meet the officials at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in London, after a row erupted over Downing Street's initial refusal to set up talks.

Many British residents who came from the Caribbean with their parents as part of a post-war rebuilding effort have been threatened with deportation following a tightening of the immigration rules.

Others have lost out on employment, healthcare and housing because they have been unable to prove their immigration status.

More than 100 MPs from all parties wrote to the Prime Minister expressing their anger at the treatment of the immigrants.

The Prime Minister's spokesman insisted she was not aware of the request, which came from 12 Caribbean countries, until this morning.

But in a major climbdown, he said Mrs May would now meet with the representatives - and said the Home Office will issue updated guidance later in a bid to solve the problem.

The spokesman said: "She deeply values the contribution made by these and all Commonwealth citizens who have made a life in the UK and is making sure the Home Office is offering the correct solution for individual situations.

"She's aware that many people are unlikely to have documents that are over 40 years old and she is clear that no one with the right to be here will be made to leave. You can expect further details to be given by the Home Office later today."

He added that the Prime Minister believed their treatment was "a matter of regret".

However, in a further blow to the Government, immigration minister Caroline Nokes confirmed that that some Windrush immigrants had already been deported in error.

Asked about the fate of those who had already been removed from the country by the Home Office, Nokes told ITV news: "There have been some horrendous situations which, as a minister, have appalled me."

However, the minister could not give an estimate for the number of people affected.

"I don't know the numbers," she said. "But what I'm determined to going forward is to say we'll have no more of this. We want people to have confidence to come to the Home Office. We want to give them a message of reassurance because I value these people."

That sparked a furious response from Labour MP David Lammy. He said: "This is a national disgrace. These individuals must be returned to their homes. I am shocked and appalled at what our nation has become, walking to a dog-whistle toxic and anti-immigrant tune has led us down this path and now innocent people have been deported."

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