Windrush: Pair talk of detention 'nightmare'

Two grandparents tell a Parliamentary committee about their ordeal of being wrongly detained.

Anthony Bryan and Paulette Wilson give evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on 16 May 2018

A member of the Windrush generation says he was left "broken" after being wrongly detained in an immigration centre because he was unable to prove he had a right to live in the UK.

Anthony Bryan, 60, came from Jamaica in 1965 but last year was threatened with deportation by the Home Office.

He spoke to MPs and peers with Paulette Wilson, who had a similar experience.

Mr Bryan agreed with a suggestion that a factor in the way he was treated was because he was black.

He was asked by Labour peer Baroness Lawrence if he thought things would have been different if he had been from Canada, New Zealand or Australia, to which he replied: "I hate to say it, but I don't think I would have this problem".

When she asked him if he saw "race as being a big part" in what happened, he said: "In the Home Office? Yes."

The murder of Mrs Lawrence's son Stephen in 1993 led to an inquiry which found there had been institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police.

'Just gave up'

Mr Bryan, a grandfather from north London, was held in a detention centre twice, for almost three weeks, last year.

His difficulties began when he lost his job after receiving a letter informing him he had no right to remain, despite having lived in the UK since he was eight.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Windrush migrants: We weren't believed

Mr Bryan told a parliamentary committee how he had phoned his family from the detention centre to tell them: "It looks like you're going to see me in Jamaica."

He continued: "They had tickets for me - I thought I was going, to be honest."

"I was resigned because I couldn't fight any more. I just gave up," he told the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

He said he explained to the officials who came to detain him at his home that he had lived in the UK for most of his life, adding: "But to them I was lying... everything I was telling them, I had to prove that".

Mr Bryan, who was accompanied at the hearing by his partner Janet McKay-Williams, was released from the immigration centre in November after a last-minute intervention from a lawyer.

'Don't belong here'

Stories of Commonwealth migrants who arrived in the UK legally as children between the late 1940s and 1973, but have no formal documentation to prove they have the right to remain in the country, have emerged in recent weeks.

The Windrush generation is named after the ship that brought the first arrivals to Britain from the Caribbean in 1948.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
A look back at life when the Windrush generation arrived in the UK

Grandmother Ms Wilson, 61, from Wolverhampton, gave evidence to the MPs and peers on the committee alongside her daughter, Natalie Barnes.

She said that without the efforts of her daughter "I would be in Jamaica, all alone".

Ms Wilson had been looked after by her grandparents in Wellington, Telford, when she first arrived in Britain from Jamaica in 1968 at the age of 10.

She received a letter from the Home Office in 2015 and was told to report each month to immigration officials. In October last year she was detained and taken to the Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre, where she spent a week before being released.

Ms Wilson said: "The first thing I got was a letter saying I was an illegal immigrant. At the time I didn't understand it but it took me about a week before I could show my daughter I had got this letter.

"They were saying I don't belong here - I've got six months to get out."

Referring to the decision to detain her, Ms Wilson told the committee: "Where could I have run to? My family is here in England. I wouldn't have run away."

"I was thinking they were going to pick me up here and put me on the plane and probably when I get there people's going to kill me. I was thinking all sorts of things in my head."

Ms Barnes said "documents were very hard to come by, They kept telling us to go here, there and everywhere... it was just very hard to get that evidence".

Committee chairwoman Harriet Harman said she would write to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to get the Home Office to give Mr Bryan and Ms Wilson their files so they could see the information that officials had about them.

The home secretary said this week that 63 members of the Windrush generation could have been wrongfully removed or deported from the UK since 2002.

But Mr Javid, who took over the post last month after Amber Rudd resigned, told MPs he did not have information on how many Windrush immigrants had been detained.




Date: 16 May 2018 | Source: BBC

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