Windrush: Home Office DID set targets for removing illegal immigrants

Amber Rudd DISOWNS targets for deportation of illegal immigrants brought in under Theresa May as she is hauled to the Commons to face another Windrush grilling

  • The Home Office has been using deportation targets since 2014, it has emerged
  • Ms Rudd was hauled back to the Commons to explain herself over the scandal
  • MPs from Labour and the SNP rounded on Ms Rudd and demanded she resign
  • A helpline set up last week has received more than 1,300 calls since its opening
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Amber Rudd today admitted she did not know the Home Office sets targets for the deportation of illegal immigrants – and does not support the policy.

The Home Secretary said that ‘unfortunately’ she was not aware of the policy – introduced when Theresa May was in charge of the department – and will be looking at it again.

Her shocking admission came after it emerged last night that officials have been using the targets for the voluntary removal of illegal immigrants since 2014.

Ms Rudd was first challenged about the targets yesterday in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee – but said she had never heard of them.

And this morning she was hauled back to the House of Commons to explain her handling of the Windrush scandal. 

She faced repeated calls to resign over the debacle by Labour MPs – but insisted she is the right person to ‘put things right’.

Ms Rudd told the Commons: ‘I have never agreed that there should be specific removal targets and I would never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people.’

Despite the latest debacle over Windrush, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said she still has ‘full confidence’ in Ms Rudd.

Amber Rudd (pictured in the Commons today) today admitted she dis not know the Home Office sets targets for the deportation of illegal immigrants – and does not sport the policy

The Home Secretary (pictured in the Commons today)  said that ‘unfortunately’ she was not aware of the policy and will be looking at it again

Labour MP David Lammy, who has led the Windrush campaign, said Amber Rudd should resign over the scandal

Ms Rudd told MPs: ‘The immigration arm of the Home Office has been using local targets for internal performance management.

‘These were not published targets against which performance was assessed, but if they were used inappropriately then I am clear that this will have to change.

‘I have asked officials to provide me with a full picture of performance measurement tools which are used at all levels, and will update the House and the Home Affairs select committee as soon as possible.’ 

She added: ‘I think we should have a compassionate, clear and informed approach to immigration….

‘I do not want us to be run by a target culture and I want to make sure that the individual is placed at the heart.’ 

The row is just the latest twist in the Windrush scandal, which has heaped pressure on Ms Rudd and her predecessor, the now Prime Minister Theresa May. 

What is the Windrush scandal and how did the fiasco develop?

June 22, 1948 – The Empire Windrush passenger ship docked at Tilbury from Jamaica. 

The 492 passengers were temporarily housed near Brixton in London. Over the following decades some 500,000 came to the UK.

Many arrived on their parents’ passports and were not formally naturalised as British citizens. 

1973 – A new immigration Act comes into force putting the onus on individuals to prove they have previously been resident in the UK.

2010 – The Home Office destroyed thousands of landing card slips recording Windrush immigrants’ arrival dates in the UK.

The move came despite staff warnings that the move would make it harder to check the records of older Caribbean-born residents experiencing residency difficulties, it was claimed  

2014 – A protection that exempted Commonwealth residents from enforced removal was removed under a new law. Theresa May was Home Secretary at the time.

Under a crackdown on illegals, Windrush immigrants are obliged to provide proof they were resident in the UK before 1973.

July 2016 – Mrs May becomes Prime Minister. 

April 2018 – Allegations that Windrush immigrants are being threatened with deportation break. Theresa May issued a grovelling apology to Caribbean leaders after major backlash 

Labour MP David Lammy, who has led the Windrush campaign, accused Ms Rudd of lying to the committee yesterday and said she must resign.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott also called on Ms Rudd to resign, saying: ‘When Lord Carrington resigned over the Falklands, he said it was a matter of honour.

‘Isn’t it time that the Home Secretary considered her honour and resigned?’ 

And the SNP also piled in saying with Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, accusing Ms Rudd of presiding over a department which is ‘out of control’.

Ms Thewliss said: ‘There is a litany of callous incompetence in this department and it is a problem of deliberate policy: cruel hostile environment policy by the former home secretary now Prime Minister and continued unabated by the current Home Secretary.’

She added: ‘This Home Secretary is presiding over a department out of control, marked by cruelty and chaos.

‘Will she stop shielding the Prime Minister, will she do the honourable thing and resign?’

Ms Rudd and Mrs May have come under intense pressure after it emerged residents who arrived from the Commonwealth from the late 1940s to the early 1970s had become caught up in a crackdown on illegal immigration. 

People who have legally lived in the UK for decades have lost their homes, jobs or rights to NHS treatment, while some have been locked up in detention centres or threatened with deportation. 

Miss Rudd yesterday admitted she had been too slow in recognising that there might be a ‘systemic’ issue over their treatment.

‘I bitterly, deeply regret that I didn’t see it as more than individual cases that had gone wrong … I didn’t see it as a systemic issue until very recently,’ she said.

During the bruising session, Miss Rudd revealed she did not know if any Windrush immigrants had been detained.   

Amber Rudd appearing in front of the Home Affairs select committee yesterday to give evidence

An inspection of removals by the borders and immigration watchdog said targets for voluntary removals of illegal immigrants were set in 2014/15 and for 2015/16

Ms Rudd said she had become aware of the scandal ‘months earlier’ but had failed to grasp the gravity of the situation

Lucy Moreton, general secretary of the Immigration Service Union, had told the committee that officials in each English region had separate targets for the number of deportations.

She claimed the national target was about 8,000 a year – and said the net removal targets appeared on office posters. 

But Miss Rudd said she was ‘not aware’ of any targets, saying she had not heard the evidence put forward by Miss Moreton. 

Glynn Williams, Home Office director general for border, immigration and citizenship, said: ‘I don’t think they exist. There are no published removal targets.’

What documentation do Windrush immigrants have to provide?

Immigrants must fill out a form to apply for a biometric card which allows them to remain in the UK.

The application costs £229 per person – but the Home Office has now said it will waive the fee for Windrush immigrants after the controversy.

Applicants must fill in a 21-page document .

And if they do not have a passport they must provide documents proving they have continuously lived in the UK since 1973.

This can include exam certificates, employment records, a National Insurance number, birth and marriage certificates and bills and letters.  

However, it has emerged a December 2015 report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration says that targets were set for voluntary departures, which took place when an individual or family notified authorities of their intention to leave the UK.

Voluntary departures included people who had approached the Home Office for financial assistance with their travel arrangements.

The assistance was available to anyone over 18 who was in the UK illegally, had been refused leave to remain in the UK or had applied for an extension of leave but wanted to withdraw the application and depart.

The report said: ‘For 2014/15 (10 full months) the Home Office set a target of 7,200 voluntary departures, an average of 120 per week, with the weekly target rising to 160 by the end of March 2015.

‘For 2015/16, the annual target was raised to 12,000. These targets were split between the 19 ICE teams across the UK.’

The Home Office also had a process for returning families who had no legal right to remain in the UK, which had a ‘single numerical target’. 

The scale of the scandal emerged for the first time yesterday, as MPs were told a helpline set up last week has received more than 1,300 calls about potential Windrush cases. 

So far 600 have been called back, with 91 appointments made and 23 sets of identity documents handed out. But Miss Rudd admitted she does not know if any Windrush immigrants have been detained because of the scandal. 

She said that as far as she is ‘aware’ no one has been deported – but there are still 1,000 cases to trawl through to confirm this.

Asked when she first knew of the Windrush problems, Miss Rudd said: ‘I became aware over the past few months … that there was a problem of individuals.

‘This was covered by newspapers, and MPs bringing it forward anecdotally over the past three or four months, and I became aware that there was a potential issue.’

Emphasising those affected were here legally, Miss Rudd insisted there is ‘nothing wrong’ in trying to remove people here unlawfully, and acknowledged she had asked for more removals of such individuals. 

She also rejected suggestions the Tories’ target to bring net migration below 100,000 had fuelled the saga.  

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for her to step aside as Home Secretary over the bruising scandal

MPs were told yesterday that a helpline set up to help those affected has been inundated with nearly 1,300 calls since last week

Earlier in the Commons, Mr Corbyn said Miss Rudd ‘inherited a failing policy and made it worse’, adding: ‘Is it not time she took responsibility and resigned?’

Last night it emerged the Home Office and No 10 were told about problems faced by the Windrush generation in 2016. 

They were alerted after the Barbados government raised concerns with the Foreign Office. 

At the time, David Cameron was prime minister, Mrs May home secretary and Philip Hammond foreign secretary.

The BBC reported that in April 2016, Mr Hammond was told by Caribbean ministers about immigrants facing deportation. 

It is believed a report was passed to the Home Office. It is not clear at what level the concerns were raised. 

40 years as a taxpayer… now gran has lost her job 

A Windrush grandmother who has paid taxes for almost 40 years was sacked from her charity job because she could not prove her right to remain.

Jessica Eugene, who arrived in Britain in 1970, was fired as a receptionist at a migrant charity last month after three years.

Miss Eugene, 58, came over from the Caribbean island of Dominica aged just ten and has lived in Stratford, east London, ever since.

She considers herself British, has raised four children in the capital and says immigration officers had told her she had an ‘indefinite right to remain’ here.

But now – 48 years after her arrival and despite having worked a number of jobs including 17 years at a fair trade organisation – she has been told she cannot work and has lost her job at Newham Community Renewal Programme.

She said: ‘The whole time I had the immigration officers’ words in my head, that I had the indefinite right to stay … all my life I have worked and paid my taxes, even when I had children I made sure to work part-time.’

Miss Eugene, who has two grandchildren, has never had a passport because she has not left the country since 1970. However, she was so convinced of her right to stay that she believed she did not need one.

She even claims she tried to clarify her status with the Home Office a year ago – to no avail. Only after losing her job was she told that she must provide it with a passport in order to obtain a right to remain.

Miss Eugene said the Government’s recent announcement that all Windrush immigrants have the right to stay has offered some solace.

But she added: ‘They need to look at people as individuals. I’m a bit disappointed – from a moral point of view I just wanted an apology.’

The Home Office said it had no record of Miss Eugene sending it an application but emphasised that all Windrush immigrants should be in no doubt of their right to remain. Newham Community Renewal Programme was approached for comment.

Amnesty call sparks backlash for Boris

Downing Street slapped down Boris Johnson last night over his call for a migrant amnesty.

The Foreign Secretary clashed with Theresa May at Cabinet on Wednesday, suggesting the Government had not done enough to help the Windrush generation.

Mr Johnson floated the idea of a wider amnesty for all Commonwealth citizens who have been in the UK for more than a decade, provided they have not committed a criminal offence.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has already announced an effective amnesty for all migrants who arrived from the Commonwealth before 1973. Those who arrived before 1988 will also get assistance with naturalisation.

Downing Street rejected the idea of a wider amnesty, saying it was ‘important that we don’t provide any incentive for people to enter the country illegally’.

In the Commons, Mrs May said: ‘People up and down this country want to make sure the Government is taking action against people who are here illegally.’

Families minister Nadhim Zahawi, who was born in Iraq, also suggested a wider amnesty would be wrong. He said: ‘The question assumes illegal immigrants should have the same status as people who are here legally. If you are here illegally and working illegally then you really shouldn’t be here.’


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