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Britain: Racism is as British as a cup of tea (Opinion) - Kehinde Andrews

Britain is meant to be celebrating 70 years since the arrival of the steamship Windrush, which brought with it 500 people from the Caribbean and marked the start of mass migration to the UK from the British Empire.

But the festive mood has been broken by the realization that a number of the Windrush generation -- who migrated as children and have spent decades in Britain -- have been classified as illegal immigrants, and are therefore losing jobs, being detained in immigration centers and even facing deportation to countries of which they have no memory.

Public and political pressure has forced Prime Minster Theresa May to apologize. But it was her Conservative Party's policies that created the scandal in the first place.

The Windrush generation was welcomed to help rebuild the nation after World War II -- before Britain imposed restrictions on immigration starting in the '60s.

The problem is that although anyone who migrated before 1973 should have automatic right to remain, they were children at the time and may have no documents to prove their status.

People are now being caught up in the "hostile environment for illegal immigrants" created by May, which strengthened the duty of workplaces to carry out immigration checks. It is through these kind of checks that longstanding residents are being declared illegal.

To understand the crisis and the political context in which it sits, we need to go back to Britain's vote for Brexit in 2016. Even some of the leaders campaigning for Brexit take back our borders" to stop uncontrolled immigration being a vote winner. Public sentiment against immigration before the vote had shifted the politics of all the major parties to the right.

During May's time as home secretary, the UK Home Office instituted some of the most draconian immigration policy in British history, which included sending out vans allowing Africans to drown in the Mediterranean as a deterrent to potential migrants.

In their appeal to minority voters, those pushing for Brexit promised that reducing immigration from Europe would mean that Britain could re-engage with her former empire,
now known as the Commonwealth.

Read more: Racism is as British as a cup of tea (Opinion) - CNN

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