Who are the Windrush generation?

Jamaican immigrants are welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship Empire Windrush landed them at Tilbury in 1948. Picture: PA
Jamaican immigrants are welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship Empire Windrush landed them at Tilbury in 1948. Picture: PA
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140 MPs from across politics have written to Prime Minister Theresa May calling for an “immediate and effective” response to concerns from long-term Commonwealth-born British residents over their immigration status.

But who are the Windrush generation?

The name comes from the Empire Windrush, the ship that brought the first large group of post-war West Indian immigrants to the UK carrying 492 passengers on a voyage from Jamaica to London in 1948.

Jamaica remained a British colony until 1960. The passengers on the Windrush were taking advantage of the 1948 British Nationality Act, which gave the status of citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC status) to all subjects in the country’s Empire.

Prior to 1962, the UK had no immigration control for CUKCs, who could settle indefinitely in the UK without restrictions.

Among the passengers was Sam Beaver King who went on to become the first black Mayor of the London borough Southwark.

The arrivals were temporarily housed in a shelter in south-west London, close to an employment exchange inBrixton, where some of the arrivals sought work. Many only intended to stay for a few years, and although a number returned the majority remained to settle permanently.

The Generation

Those born in the West Indies who settled in the UK throughout the 1960s are now generally referred to as the Windrush generation.

There are now 500,000 people resident in the UK who were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived before 1971 - including the Windrush arrivals - according to estimates by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory.

The letter to the PM was co-ordinated by David Lammy, chairman of the Race and Community All Party Parliamentary Group, and has the backing of Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative MPs such as Sarah Wollaston.

Mr Lammy said: “What is going on is grotesque, immoral and inhumane. It is a stain on our nation’s conscience and the Prime Minister must act urgently to right this historic wrong.

“After World War II we invited the Windrush Generation over as citizens to help rebuild our country, and now their children are being treated like criminals.

“The government is essentially stripping people of the rights that our government itself granted decades ago.

“The government must immediately guarantee that anyone who comes forward to clarify their status should not face deportation or detention, because as things stand today there are thousands of people who are too worried about their future to come forward.”