Windrush Scandal: Identity Crisis of Migrants


Humanity can learn many things by looking at the case of Britain. The island gave the world several notable scientists, ranging from Newton to Darwin. It was Britain that sow the seeds of industrial revolution. They created one of the strongest naval fleets in the history and pioneered sea trade. The English offer the glorious story of the resistance put up by a tiny island against the mighty Nazi invasion during the wartime. It was one of the first countries in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. It was again the Britain which, along with France, spread the ideas of liberalism, free thought, and liberty across Europe for the first time. Britain taught the world the dire need of welcoming refugees with care and love, even before other countries could even possibly think upon such matters. While post-war Europe saw growing mistrust and competition between various nations, Britain was open-minded to welcome a huge number of refugees from the Commonwealths; Indeed, Britain always had an ‘American dream’ and often stood-up to defend human dignity and choices. However, with the recent Windrush scandal that shook even the top echelons of power in Britain, the legitimacy of Britain as a flag bearer of modernism and change is being questioned. Once, Britain wholeheartedly welcomed the immigrants from Caribbean nations to fill the labour shortage created by war. They came to Britain as citizens; today, they are on the verge of expulsion as they are no longer citizens but ‘illegal immigrants’.

Windrush migration was one of the key events in post-World War II that happened in Britain. As the country was war-torn, both the people as well as the leaders felt the need for filling up the labour supply mismatches so that the economy in the recovery phase would function without any failure. It was in this background that he then British government decided to open up its doors for those potential immigrants, who wished to relocate themselves from their home Caribbean countries to the United Kingdom. The term Windrush could trace back its roots to the ship HMT Empire Windrush which brought a group of nearly 500 migrants to London, on 22nd of June 1948 (Source: NYTimes). While many of them were ex-servicemen, some traveled to just explore and see, how England was like. Later, a majority of these families settled down in and around Britain. Though there was certain legislation to keep a check on their numbers, the influx of migrants remained stable for next few years till the late 1980s, when the governments became more cautious on bringing in ‘coloured people’ from other countries including the previous British colonies. There have been attempts from various corners in the UK to force the immigrants to leave the country by creating a ‘hostile’ environment in Britain in terms of employment and social security and this is the de facto policy that the conservative government is pursuing since the beginning of this decade. The recent resignation of Amber Rudd from the position of Home Secretary was the result of the heightened Windrush scandal and the allegations that many of the Windrush migrants have been deported.

The Windrush Scandal yet again brings in the question of the way the global elite treats the refugees and immigrants. One reason why individuals migrate, leaving behind their homes and mother country, is because no longer their lives are warranted; after all, who wants to leave their motherland if it offers all luxuries of life and a better standard of living? Unlike the Syrian refugee crisis that the world has been experiencing since 2014, the Windrush scandal brings in a different set of questions. Windrush scandal became a ‘scandal’ because of the government’s decision to deny the right to citizenship to certain sections of the society, amidst the fact that they have been the part of the British society for nearly half-century. In fact, they were welcomed as ‘citizens’ and after all these years, ignoring their contributions to the society, they are being treated as ‘illegal’ ‘immigrants’ who came to the country through ‘unlawful’ means. The irony is that it was the same English society that created the legendary ‘Magna Carta’ centuries ago when people’s rights were even beyond the imagination of the several contemporary civilizations of those days. Windrush scandal also questions the legality of the infamous ‘hostility’ policy pursued by the British government. Though the May administration justifies it, one must not forget the fact that even Nazi Germany under Hitler was nothing different from what Theresa May and her cabinet do today. Hitler was intolerant of Jews and hence he made their lives miserable; so is the current British government.

Anyone who keenly follows the developments in the international affairs in the recent past would know the efforts by the May government to rejuvenate the ‘Commonwealth of Nations’ to facilitate trade, which is expected to decline once Britain leaves European Union. While the United Kingdom has been pressing for a rejuvenated ‘Commonwealth of Nations’ on one hand, it maintains ‘hostility’ towards its own citizens, who came from such Commonwealth countries decades ago and worked towards rebuilding the war-torn British economy. Essentially, the actions of UK is not matching with their actions; and the English language does have a word to represent such mismatches: Hypocrisy.
Picture Credits: EAWorldView

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