The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, has urged the government on Monday to learn the lessons of the Windrush scandal and take steps to end the ‘hostile environment’ faced by immigrants for good.
On Windrush Day he is demanding that Ministers help Londoners secure their immigration status by cutting extortionate immigration and citizenship fees, and improving funding for the advice and support sector.
Many of the Windrush Generation – who came to Britain in the 1940s and 1950s are still struggling to access the support and compensation they need, while the government’s ‘hostile environment‘ policies still exclude many others from their rights to residency and citizenship.
An estimated 107,000 children and 26,000 18 to 24-year olds are living in London without secure immigration status, but despite more than half being born in the UK, the high cost of immigration and citizenships fees mean that they are unable to access higher education, open a bank account, apply for a driving licence, or secure housing or employment.
City Hall has provided £310,000 to boost the capacity of London’s immigration advice sector. The funding is being used by Justice Together, a collaboration of independent funders, to help widen access to free legal advice and strengthen the campaign for lawful and fair immigration and asylum processes.
Sadiq has long been a vocal advocate for the Windrush generation and will today join legal experts, activists and community and faith leaders at a virtual event to mark Windrush Day, in partnership with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
The Mayor will call on the government to cut extortionate immigration and citizenship fees, reinstate legal aid for immigration cases and provide proper financial support to advice services.
Other speakers include Arike Oke, Managing Director of the Black Cultural Archives, Jacqui McKenzie, Immigration law practitioner and member of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review Advisory Group, Chrisann Jarrett, founder of We Belong, and Patrick Vernon OBE, social commentator and founder of the Windrush Justice Fund – a campaign to which the Mayor has contributed £20,000.
Khan said, “The Windrush generation’s contribution to our country and to the success of our great city must never again be understated or undervalued. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for the way they have influenced our lives and shaped our city.
“But another year has passed and lessons are still not being learned. Many of the Windrush Generation and their families are still struggling to access the advice and support they need, and it is clear that too many Londoners are still being failed by an immigration system that is prohibitively expensive and simply not fit for purpose.
“I’m proud that our funding is helping Londoners of all backgrounds to get the legal advice and support they need, but the Government must end its hostile immigration policies now to ensure these Londoners can secure their future in our city.”
Chrisann Jarrett, founder of We Belong, said, “Like thousands of young migrants who have grown up in the UK, I am inspired by the Windrush generation and their strength in speaking out about their experiences to affect change.
“I see them as role models but hate seeing many young Londoners suffer as they did trying to navigate our broken and hostile immigration system.
“Every young person in this country deserves the opportunity to succeed and give back but they need a fair immigration system that enables them to do so.”
Patrick Vernon OBE, founder of Windrush Justice Fund, said, “It is important that Windrush Day acknowledges the contribution and achievements of the Windrush Generation and migration in making London one of the most tolerant and multicultural cities in the world.
“In the context of a national debate on the status and validity of statues and memorials which is linked to Empire and Colonial past it is time we have a series of memorials recognising multicultural London.
“I have a vision that by 2023 when we reach the 75th anniversary of the Empire Windrush that we raise the necessary funds and recover the anchors of the ship and its displayed in central London as a monument celebrating Windrush Generation and migration.”