Pitting Windrush against the ‘wrong’ kind of migrants does nothing to change the narrative that produced Windrushby Maya Goodfellow / May 2, 2018 / Leave a comment
It must have come as a surprise to Theresa May that one of her flagship policies could become so toxic; the “hostile environment” was only ever meant to be a vote winner. Over the past two weeks the Windrush scandal made headlines, Amber Rudd was forced to resign as Home Secretary and the policy itself has come under question. But this has been decades in the making.
On the surface, it seems this all started with an unachievable, wrongheaded target: the Coalition Government’s promise to cut net migration to the “tens of thousands.” Determined to show they would be ‘firm’ on immigrants—and sticking to the well-worn script that immigration was a ‘problem’ to be dealt with—they promised to “get the numbers down.” Or, in real terms, to make it harder for people to come into the country and more difficult for people who couldn’t show the right documents on demand to stay.
When Theresa May was home secretary she therefore set out to create a “really hostile environment for illegal immigrants” through a litany of aggressive measures in the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts. As a result, people are now stopped from accessing “non-urgent” medical care if they didn’t have the right papers. Employers, landlords and bank staff have been turned into border guards. For thousands of people, the rule became “deport first, appeal later”