01:09 GMT +318 January 2020
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    LONDON (Sputnik) - The UK is home to "a racist culture," and Prime Minister Theresa May is the "architect" of this hostile environment, the vice chair of the Council of Management of the Institute of Race Relations think tank told Sputnik amid the scandal on the immigration status of the so-called Windrush generation Commonwealth citizens.

    "Reckless just doesn't cover it. It is a racist culture and it's a product of a racist culture. Theresa May was the architect of this hostile environment and [Home Secretary] Amber Rudd is her faithful servant," Frances Webber said.

    Under the rules introduced while May was the home secretary, employers, landlords and healthcare providers have to ask customers for proof of their legal status, which has turned out to be difficult for many decades-long residents of the United Kingdom. Many of the Windrush generation never applied for UK citizenship and have no such legal proof.

    "It was Theresa May who introduced the hostile environment working group, with that title, and made it an explicit part of government policy, as in making life impossible for undocumented people. It was under Theresa May's measures that NHS staff became obliged to check on patients, and more recently have been obliged to charge up-front for what was described as non-urgent treatment," Webber said.

    The NGO representative stressed that she did not believe that the Windrush crisis was simply the result of the government's oversight.

    "It's true that they intended to target people who were not legally entitled to be here, but they made it impossible for people to prove that they had the right to be here. If you switch to a system where people have got to prove their entitlement to be here at every stage, whether they want to get married, open a bank account, drive or get somewhere to live, first of all you've got to tell those who might be affected what you’re doing, loud and clearly, repeatedly," the think tank representative explained.

    Webber noted that the demand for the proof of legal stay had to be ensured via a special infrastructure. The then-UK government was warned that such an initiative could pave the road for racial discrimination, the think tank representative said.

    "The government did actually say 'ok, initially we'll just do a pilot and then decide.' Well they had a pilot, they didn't look at the results and instead just rolled it out over the country," Webber pointed out.

    Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes admitted earlier this month that some mistakes were made regarding the status of the people from the West Indies who came to the United Kingdom after WWII.

    READ MORE: Windrush Scandal: Shadow Minister Urges UK Home Secretary to Resign

    Rudd told the parliament on Wednesday that there were no deportation targets in the United Kingdom, however, on Thursday she was forced to backtrack on her remarks when the information about their existence was leaked to the public.

    The Commonwealth citizens who moved to the United Kingdom during several years after the end of World War II are often nicknamed the Windrush generation, after the ship that took the first few hundred people from the Caribbean. Under the UK law, the Commonwealth citizens who arrived in the United Kingdom before 1973 have a legal right to stay in the country, but it emerged recently that some of the Windrush migrants may have been mistakenly deported.

    The views and opinions expressed by Frances Webber are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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