"I've lived here for 18 years, I know loads of people who have been sent home just because they don't have the right paperwork. The deportation orders are nothing new, Jamaican immigrants have to pay thousands of pounds for the correct paperwork to stay; this has been going on for years, it's racism." Desiree told Sputnik.
Ship MV Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948, bringing people from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands to work in Britain following labour shortages after the Second World War.
Thank you so much to everyone writing to me with stories and photos. Human stories show why this matters. And the photos serve as a timeless reminder of our ancestors on whose shoulders we stand and whose behalf we speak out. This is a fight that we will win. #Windrush pic.twitter.com/5HB8yT0ESZ— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 18, 2018
However the Home Office didn't permanently record the status of immigrants who were granted leave to remain in the UK and subsequently destroyed their landing cards in 2010 — one possible way of determining who had the legal right to remain in Britain.
The children of the Windrush generation who lack official documents are now being told they need to prove their right to remain in the UK and receive treatment from the NHS. "You wanted them to build Britain up — don't just discard them," Desiree told Sputnik.
In an attempt to distance her government from the Windrush controversy, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May has told members of parliament at Prime Minister's Questions, the decision to destroy landing cards for Commonwealth citizens was taken in 2009 by a Labour government.
However it's since emerged the disembarkation cards dating back to the 1950s and 1960s were destroyed in 2010 when the Home Office's Whitgift Center in Croydon was closed and staff were relocated.
BREAKING: Clarification from @DawnButlerBrent in the Commons in a Point of Order with Speaker Bercow. The decision to destroy the cards was taken in 2010 and by the Border and Immigration Agency, not as the PM said in #PMQs today, by the Labour government.— Steve Miller (@steveguyettmil2) April 18, 2018
Am told #windrush landing cards were stored in sacks in basement of home office building in Croydon— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) April 18, 2018
#FBPE #windrush For attention of Former Home Office staffers. On what date were Windrush landing cards (stored in a Home Office-controlled basement in Croydon — address?), destroyed? Alternatively, on what date was the basement vacated by the Home Office? @ameliagentleman— Simon MacDonald (@SKMacDonald) April 18, 2018
Theresa May, one of Britain's longest serving Home Secretaries before becoming Prime Minister set out her clear intention to make Britain a "hostile environment" for immigrants in 2010. Vans telling illegal immigrants to "go home or face arrest" were introduced in London in 2013. The vehicles were driven around ethnically diverse boroughs of London.
The apologies are coming thick & fast for #Windrush.— Schona Jolly QC (@WomaninHavana) April 17, 2018
But for what, exactly? Because the reality of entrenched govt policy has been exposed?
Are they apologising for the #HostileEnvironment policy, designed by the Govt, enshrined in law?
What next? Who next?
I think we have to understand one thing about Theresa May that when she initiated the Home Office "go home" vans, she proved that she was both a racist and an enabler of racism and that irrespective of her crocodile tear apology on Windrush she is still a racist. #pmqs— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) April 18, 2018
Desiree has lived and worked in London for 18 years, sending money home to care for her two sons and mother. "Theresa May hasn't got kids, she doesn't know what a mother will do to survive to make sure her family can eat," Desiree told Sputnik.
"People just don't understand what we have to go through with the immigration system. They make it so hard. That's why people resort to bogus methods — because they need to survive," Desiree told Sputnik.
"It is racism. I can't think of any other angle than it being a racist one," Desiree told Sputnik. "I don't think Theresa May understands our community and why we're in Britain. You can't just sit there and make laws if you don't know how hard it is to abide by them.
There are 500,000 people living in the UK who were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived in Britain before 1971, according to Oxford University's Migration Observatory.
Desiree tells Sputnik she is pleased the scandal has finally been exposed, "this exposure is good for our community, it's about time people really know how difficult it is to be an immigrant in this country, even when you've been here for 40 years."
Theresa May has apologized for the second time in two days for causing "confusion and anxiety" to people who mistakenly received letters, acknowledging "the massive contribution" people from Commonwealth countries made to Britain.
.@theresa_may on the Windrush generation: 'These people are British. They are part of us and I want to be absolutely clear that we have no intention of asking anyone to leave who has the right to remain here.'#PMQs— Conservatives (@Conservatives) April 18, 2018
Labour MP David Lammy has called the Windrush crisis "grotesque, immoral and inhumane." Amber Rudd, Britain's Home Secretary is facing calls to resign.
Thread: Today I have led 140 MPs from 6 parties urging @theresa_may to take immediate action to address the #Windrush crisis. What is going on is grotesque, immoral and inhumane. It is a stain on our nation’s conscience and the PM must act urgently to right this historic wrong. pic.twitter.com/3XM6PXyYGF— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 16, 2018
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.