Row over rights of Commonwealth citizens to remain in UK was given impetus by Guardian articles last year
Tuesday 28 November 2017 Paulette Wilson, who has lived in the UK for more than half a century, speaks to the Guardian about her treatment at the hands of the Home Office. The government had threatened to send her to Jamaica – a country she has not seen since she left it at the age of 10.
Friday 1 December 2017 Anthony Bryan becomes the second of the Windrush generation facing deportation under Theresa May’s hostile environment policy to tell his story to the Guardian. Bryan’s deportation to Jamaica was only cancelled at the last moment after a legal intervention. “They don’t tell you why they are holding you and they don’t tell you why they let you out. You feel so depressed,” he said.
Thursday 11 January 2018 The government relents in Wilson’s case, finally giving her official leave to remain in the UK. During her more than 50 years in the UK, Wilson had served food to MPs as a cook in the House of Commons and raised a family. But the Home Office did not initially believe she was in the country legally.
Wednesday 21 February 2018 “It’s an appalling place to live. I’m a proud man; I’m embarrassed at my age to be living like this,” Renford McIntyre tells the Guardian as the former NHS driver, who arrived in the UK in 1968, details how he has been left homeless, living in an industrial unit after being told he was not allowed to work and was not eligible for any government support.
Thursday 22 February 2018 The issue begins to snowball, as senior Caribbean diplomats urge the Home Office to adopt a “more compassionate” approach towards retirement-age Commonwealth citizens. “In this system one is guilty before proven innocent rather than the other way around,” the Jamaican high commissioner to London, Seth George Ramocan, says.
Saturday 10 March 2018 There is widespread outrage as it emerges a man who has lived in London for 44 years is told to produce a British passport or face a bill of £54,000 for cancer treatment – forcing him to go without. Official suspicion about his immigration status also led to Albert Thompson – not his real name – being evicted and spending three weeks homeless.
Thursday 22 March 2018 Theresa May refuses to intervene in Thompson’s case, having promised to do so when confronted by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, at prime minister’s questions. She says the decision lies with the hospital under her government’s new rules, which place a responsibility on clinicians to decide whether or not a case is urgent and demand documents before giving treatment where they are thought not to be.
Monday 26 March – Monday 9 April 2018 Three more similar cases emerge: those of Sarah O’Connor; Elwaldo Romeo and Michael Braithwaite, who have each lived in the UK for more than 50 years. O’Connor was challenged to prove she was in the country legally by the benefits agency and Romeo received a letter from the Home Office saying he was “liable to be detained” because he was a “person without leave”. Braithwaite, an experienced special needs teaching assistant, lost his job after his employers ruled he was in the country illegally.
Thursday 12 April 2018 International anger at Britain’s treatment of the Windrush generation grows as Caribbean diplomats condemn the Home Office. “I am dismayed that people who gave their all to Britain could be seemingly discarded so matter-of-factly,” says Guy Hewitt, the Barbados high commissioner to the UK.
Friday 13 April 2018 Voices of opposition are also raised domestically, as four Church of England bishops join a call for an immigration amnesty for those people who moved to the UK from the Caribbean decades ago. They start a petition that is backed by more than 140,000 signatories by Monday.
Sunday 15 April 2018 Downing Street refuses a formal diplomatic request to discuss the issue at this week’s meeting of the Commonwealth heads of government, leaving Caribbean diplomats with the impression the UK is not taking it seriously.
Monday 16 April 2018 Events begin to move quickly. The Labour MP, David Lammy, calls this a “day of national shame”, telling the Commons: “Let us call it as it is. If you lay down with dogs, you get fleas, and that is what has happened with this far right rhetoric in this country.”
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, announces the creation of a team dedicated to ensuring no more Windrush-era citizens be classified as illegal immigrants and acknowledges Home Office failings. She also promises none of them will be deported because of lack of paperwork.
More than 140 MPs from all parties sign a letter to the prime minister, demanding she find a “swift resolution of this growing crisis”. The same day, it emerges that a man who moved from Jamaica in 1955 has spent the last seven years fighting the Home Office over his immigration status. Richard Stewart cannot afford the £1,400 fee to naturalise in the UK.