Sajid Javid announces hostile environment policy 'pause' in wake of Windrush scandal
Sajid Javid has announced a pause in the Government's "hostile environment" immigration policy in the wake of the Windrush scandal.
The Home Secretary said there would be a three-month pause to "pro-active data sharing" between government departments to prevent members of the Windrush generation getting caught up in policies aimed at curbing illegal immigration.
Ministers have been fiercely criticised over the scandal, which saw British citizens of Caribbean descent stripped of their rights to work, denied access to public services and threatened with deportation.
The changes will see a freeze in data sharing from HMRC, the department of work and pensions, and the DVLA to the Home Office to ensure that members of the Windrush generation are not being “erroneously impacted by compliant environment measures.”
The Home Office has revealed that almost 600 people have been granted British citizenship while a further 2000 have been provided with documents confirming their status in the country under a scheme set up to tackle the Windrush scandal.
Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper said that the Government had failed to “make contact with the majority of those who were wrongfully deported or removed” and urged them to immediately establish a hardship fund for those who had been financially impacted by the scandal.
The move comes amid suggestions that the Government could be mulling a change of its target to reduce immigration to the “tens of thousands”.
When asked earlier this week at a meeting of the Home Affairs Select Committee if the target was “a massive chain around your neck” that he wanted to “ditch”, Mr Javid responded “next question”.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott welcomed the pause, but said the move was “too little, too late” for those who had already been caught up.
“The Government has finally accepted that as long as the ‘hostile environment’ is in place the Windrush scandal could continue for years to come. But for those who have already lost so much this is too little too late”, she said.
“Many questions remain, such as how many people have been wrongfully deported, detained or bullied into ‘voluntary removals’ and refused re-entry. Months later the Government does not have clear answers.
“The Tories must come clean on their handling of the Windrush scandal and not just pause but end the hostile environment for good.”