Church leaders are among those outraged by the treatment of the ‘Windrush generation’ – those who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries – with many supporting a petition to be debated in the UK Parliament on 30 April 2018. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and Liberty have called for the appointment of an Independent Commission, and an Early Day Motion calling for an independent review of home office immigration policy and practice has been tabled by Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of the Green Party.
Petition and letters
The four Bishops of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark, including Jonathan Clark, the Bishop of Croydon and Chair of the Churches Refugee Network (CRN), are among those supporting a petition to the UK Parliament calling for an amnesty for those who were a minor arriving in Britain between 1948 and 1971. The petition has attracted over 177,000 signatures and will be debated in Parliament on 30 April 2018. There are more details in the Church Times.
Christopher Chessun, the Bishop of Southwark, has also written to the UK Prime Minister, highlighting the ‘stories of those members of our community who entered the United Kingdom as children 50 and 60 years ago from British Colonies or recently independent island members of the Commonwealth who are now called upon to demonstrate their right to remain upon threat of removal’.
The Bishop of Southwark also wrote a letter to The Times newspaper, alongside Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, and other faith leaders, highlighting the plight of the Windrush migrants.
Baptist Union of Great Britain
The Baptists Together website details statements from Baptists including Wale Hudson Roberts, the Baptist Union’s Justice Co-ordinator, who said ‘The Government’s behaviour has been reprehensible, inflicting indignity on thousands of Caribbeans. it needs to do the right thing and that is more than just an apology, but compensation for damage caused.’
Catholic Church in England and Wales
Bishop Paul McAleenan, Chair of the Office for Migration Policy, has welcomed the UK government’s apology for challenging the residency status of undocumented members of the so-called Windrush generation:
“Such an oversight is both extraordinary and unacceptable; a fact now recognised by the government. To deny them access to the benefits of the State they have served so well would have been truly reprehensible.
“The Windrush generation and all communities that have made meaningful contribution to this country deserve to be treated fairly and with respect.”
United Reformed Church (URC)
The Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries for the United Reformed Church, has commented:
‘I agree with Labour MP David Lammy who called this situation a national disgrace and the writer Andrea Levy, herself a progeny of HMS Empire Windrush, who has called this issue “a violation of natural justice”…
‘Legacies of Britain’s colonial past are still alive and this is one example that must cause us to ask: what really has changed in this country? I urge the Christian community to show solidarity for all those affected by this injustice. God’s offer of full and abundant life for all means that such and all related forms of injustice should be named, protested and exorcised from our life together. It is sin. It betrays God’s desire for a just and beloved community.’
The Revd John Proctor, General Secretary for the URC, said: ‘Our Church is greatly enriched by many people who were born in the Commonwealth and our country has benefited enormously from their contributions to our communities. We care about this issue because it is a flagrant injustice, and because we know at first-hand how much Britain gains from the presence of people with family roots in other Commonwealth countries.’
Read the full statements on the URC website
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and Liberty have called for the appointment of an Independent Commission to review the workings of the Home Office and the legal framework of the ‘hostile environment’. JCWI and Liberty have also published a Dossier of Failure, detailing the need for an Independent Commission into the ‘systematic failures which culminated in the Windrush scandal’. See the JCWI website for more details.