A scandal uncovered
In 2018, the Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman started reporting that people who had arrived here as young children with their parents were now being threatened with deportation. These were people who, for various reasons, had not formalised their status in the UK by applying for a passport and were now subject to the Government’s ‘hostile environment’ (a package of measures intented to make living in the UK untenable for those without permission to remain, thereby encouraging them to leave).
Suddenly, they were being told they had to prove that they had the right to remain in the UK or they would face deportation. However, many of those affected were unable to prove their citizenship either because they arrived in the UK on their parents’ passports or because landing cards and other records proving their arrivals had been destroyed.
Cases later emerged of people no longer being able to access healthcare, social care, benefits and housing because in order to access these services and benefits they had to prove they were British. Albert Thompson (a pseudonym he gave for fear of repercussions that might arise if he used his real name) was told by his hospital that he would have to pay for his cancer treatment; Renford McIntyre became homeless because he was unable to work; Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan only narrowly avoided deportation. The Government has admitted more than 83 people have been wrongfully deported.
This happened, despite these people having lived here for decades, working and raising families – despite being British and having the right to these services.