Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, April 13, 2018
Four Church of England bishops have joined a call for an immigration amnesty for people who moved to the UK from the Caribbean decades ago but now face uncertainty over their status.
The bishops are urging people in their dioceses to sign a petition demanding an amnesty for those who arrived as minors between 1948 and 1971. The petition, which had gathered almost 58,000 signatures by 5pm on Friday, also calls for the government to pay compensation for “loss and hurt”.
This week, Caribbean diplomats in the UK condemned the Home Office’s treatment of many longterm Commonwealth-born UK residents as “illegal immigrants”.
They called on the UK government to resolve an anomaly that has left many people being denied health services, prevented from working and facing destitution, detention and possible deportation despite having lived in the UK for decades.
Thousands of people are encountering serious immigration problems because they have no documents.
The Midlands bishops – Michael Ipgrave of Lichfield, Mark Rylands of Shrewsbury, Clive Gregory of Wolverhampton and Geoff Annas of Stafford – have signed the petition, along with the Rev Rachel Parkinson, the chair of the Methodist church in Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury.
Referring to the “Windrush generation” – those that answered the call to come to the UK to work in essential services in the 1950s and 60s – Ipgrave said: “As preparations are made to celebrate the 70th anniversary of [the arrival of] Windrush [the ship that brought some of the first migrants to the UK from the Caribbean], it saddens me greatly that people who have lived here their whole adult lives now face uncertainty and fear.
“These are individuals in their 50s and 60s who have contributed to society and may have never known a home outside of the UK. I am urging people across the Midlands and beyond to join me in signing this petition to right this wrong.”
The bishop drew attention to the case of Elwaldo Romeo, 63, who was told by the Home Office he was living in the UK illegally despite having arrived at the age of four.
Romeo has been told to report fortnightly to Home Office premises, and offered “help and support on returning home voluntarily”. He has not visited Antigua, where he was born, for more than half a century.