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Citizenship

UK Home Secretary Resigns Amid Immigration Scandal

Amber Rudd has resigned as the UK’s home secretary as a result of the Windrush immigration scandal that has snowballed in recent weeks. 

Rudd announced her departure on Monday morning, with Sajid Javid, former communities, local government, and housing secretary, named as her replacement shortly after. 

The news comes as over 200 cross-party MPs wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May, urging her to ensure promises made to Windrush generation migrants — concerning compensation and UK citizenship — to be enshrined into law “without delay.” 

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The Windrush generation refers to people who arrived to live in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Commonwealth Caribbean countries, according to the BBC. It comes from the name of the ship, the MV Empire Windrush, which brought people from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and other islands in 1948, as a response to labour shortages following the Second World War. 

But the recent scandal has seen Windrush generation migrants and their families threatened with deportation and refused access to public services such as healthcare.

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In response, the UK government promised that those affected will be compensated, and offered fast-track UK citizenship if they want it.

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Labour MP David Lammy is now leading the call from hundreds of ministers to make these promises law. 

“We are calling on you to do this by bringing a statutory instrument before parliament to ensure that the measures are implemented as quickly as possible,” reads the MPs' letter, which has been signed by ministers from the Scottish National Party (SNP), Wales’ Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party, as well as by one Conservative MP, according to the BBC

The letter also accused Rudd of having made up immigration policy “on the hoof” when she was questioned by the Home Affairs Select Committee last week.

When questioned, Rudd told ministers that the Home Office didn’t have targets for the removal of illegal immigrants. However, she tweeted on Friday that removal targets did exist.

In her resignation later, Rudd said she had “inadvertently misled” MPs over these targets, and added that “the Windrush scandal has rightly shone a light on an important issue for our country.”

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“As so often, the instincts of the British people are right,” she added. “They want people who have a right to live here to be treated fairly and humanely, which has sometimes not been the case.”

The first cases of threatened deportation began to emerge at the end of 2017, but the row escalated rapidly throughout March and April to draw national attention to the issue. On April 16, Labor MP Lammy described it as a “day of national shame” in a powerful speech to the Home of Commons.  

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“The campaign for justice on behalf of the Windrush generation is not just about political scalps,” said Lammy on Twitter, following Rudd’s resignation. “At its heart this crisis is about a system that was allowed to dehumanise and victims Windrush British citizens.” 

In his new role, Javid has become the UK’s first home secretary from an ethnic minority background. 

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His parents emigrated from Pakistan in the 1960s, and he has already spoken out about how the Windrush row feels “very personal.” 

“It could have been me, my mum, or my dad,” he told the Sunday Telegraph, while appealing last week for ethnic minority voters not to abandon the Conservatives in the run-up to local elections on May 3. 

Former Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire will now replace Javid as housing, communities, and local government secretary, and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt will take on Rudd’s other role as women’s and equalities minister. 

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