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Windrush protesters urge Theresa May to quit over ‘hostile environment’

Families of those affected by the fiasco were joined by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott at a rally outside Downing Street.

Demonstrators protesting against the treatment of the Windrush generation have called for Theresa May to resign.

Families of those affected by the fiasco were joined by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott at a rally outside Downing Street.

Campaign group Stand Up To Racism held the demonstration on Whitehall calling for the end of a “hostile environment”, while people also chanted that the Prime Minister should be deported.

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Windrush generation immigration controversy

Demonstrators, including women who spent months detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, held placards that said Solidarity With The Windrush Generation and Windrush Generation: Here To Stay.

Yvonne Williams, 58, was released from Yarl’s Wood just last week and when she was told of her release she said she was “screaming” with joy.

Ms Williams, the daughter of a woman who arrived in Britain from Jamaica with the Windrush generation, said she was not given a reason for her release and is still concerned about what her future holds.

“I’m still worried, because I still have to go and start signing on on Tuesday, and they’re likely to take me back in there,” she said.

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Yvonne Williams and Simone Daley at the rally on Whitehall on Saturday May 5 (Catherine Wylie/PA)

Ms Williams came to the UK in 2001 to be with her family after her grandmother died in Jamaica, and she has since endured years of having applications to stay refused.

She had been in detention for eight months, and said: “I was so happy to be released from that place because it’s torture.”

Reflecting on how difficult it was, she said it leaves people “traumatised”, adding: “Very hard, every day you’re thinking, oh, they’re going to come and take me.”

Meanwhile, Ms Abbott told the crowd of around 150 people: “When it comes to the Windrush scandal, all roads lead back to Theresa May.”

Ms Abbott said it was Mrs May who brought in the “hostile environment”.

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Windrush generation immigration controversy

Asked if she thinks the Government is doing enough, Ms Abbott said: “We will judge them by what they actually do.”

Among the demonstrators was Weyman Bennett, 52, from Tottenham in North London, whose family travelled from Jamaica to Britain between 1958 and 1966.

His mother came to work in the NHS and his father was in the British Army.

“Amber Rudd took the blame, but I believe that Theresa May is responsible for it, and she should go.

“I honestly think that she’s responsible for the inhuman treatment of people.

“I’m talking about grandmothers kissing goodbye to their children,” he said.

Mr Bennett added: “I hope that Theresa May is held accountable for what she did, because the people’s voices have to be heard.”

The Londoner said he believes the Windrush generation have been “betrayed”.

Ministers faced a furious backlash over the treatment of the Windrush generation, named after a ship that brought migrants to Britain in 1948.

People who had arrived before 1973 were automatically granted indefinite leave to remain under the 1971 Immigration Act, but the Home Office did not keep a record of those allowed to stay or any documentation confirming their status.

While many of those who arrived have taken British citizenship or have official documents proving their status, others have struggled to source paperwork demonstrating they are lawfully resident.

Those who have been living legally in the UK for decades have lost their jobs, been denied access to NHS treatment, benefits and pensions, had their driving licences withdrawn and been warned they face deportation.

Under emergency Government measures, thousands of people will be offered the chance to obtain British citizenship free of charge and without the requirement to take language tests.

A compensation scheme for those affected by the failings will also be introduced within weeks.

Earlier this week new Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed that the number of potential Windrush cases reported to a dedicated Home Office taskforce had reached 3,000.

More than 100 people have had their cases processed and now have the documents they need, Mr Javid told MPs on Wednesday.

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