Home Office criticised after 49 deportees not informed of Windrush task force
Opposition MPs express their anger after 49 people deported to Africa not made aware of Windrush task force
The Home Office came under increased pressure in parliament on Monday as ministers revealed that "no specific attempt" had been made to contact those people who were deported to Nigeria and Ghana in 2017.
The task force was set up in response to the Windrush scandal which rocked the UK earlier this year. Many people from Commonwealth countries were wrongfully classified as illegal immigrants, despite living in Britain for decades.
Members of the 'Windrush generation' - named after a ship that brought migrants to Britain from the Caribbean in 1948 - had been encouraged by the UK government to settle in Britain. But some did not have the necessary paperwork to confirm their residency status.
In 2010 the Home Office destroyed its archive of landing cards, the only record of immigration status for some was now lost.
When the department, under Theresa May's leadership, subsequently embarked on its "hostile environment" policy in 2012, many of these immigrants were then wrongfully deported.
Following the public outcry this year, a team was set up to help those affected to formalise their residency in the UK. Thousands have now formally contacted the task force and have confirmed their right to stay in the UK but it seems 49 people deported to Nigeria and Ghana in 2017 were not even made aware of its existence
This has resulted in many MP's lambasting the government, with some calling it a "national disgrace" for failing to contact the people who were deported.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: "It doesn't seem much to ask for the government to tell people they've kicked out of the country that the Windrush task force exists."
Satbir Singh, the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, told the BBC: "If the Home Office has the capacity to deny somebody their rights, to separate them from their loved ones and remove them from the country, surely it has the capacity to find them, to apologise and to help them come home."
"But this isn't a question of capacity alone, it's a question of decency, and yet another example of a department going out of its way to avoid doing the right thing."
"As a country surely we can do so much better than this."
She said: "This website is regularly updated with information about how individuals who believe they qualify under the Windrush criteria can apply for status under the Windrush Settlement Scheme.
"Assistance is also available through the Windrush Taskforce helpline on freephone 0800678 1925 or by email at [email protected]ffice.gov.uk."