Monday, 20 August, 2018

British PM May defends illegal immigration targets after minister resigns

Britain's Communities Secretary Sajid Javid Sajid Javid appointed as new Home Secretary after Amber Rudd's resignation
Cristina Norman | 04 May, 2018, 14:20

The son of Pakistani parents who emigrated to Britain in the 1960s, new interior minister Sajid Javid took charge Monday of a ministry in crisis over its treatment of immigrants. "She designed them, she implemented them when she was home secretary", said Rob Ford, a professor of politics at the University of Manchester.

Jeremy Corbyn insisted Mrs May had "questions to answer" about her time in the Home Office.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt adds to her duties Rudd's other brief as minister for women and equalities.

In her resignation letter to Mrs May, Ms Rudd said: "I feel it is necessary to do so because I inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee over targets for removal of illegal immigrants during their questions on Windrush".

"It is only fair on ordinary working people, people who work hard, who contribute to see that those people who come here illegally, who perhaps haven't contributed, aren't able to make the same use of services".

Javid told parliament he was working to resolve the situation of the so-called Windrush migrants after a scandal that forced her predecessor Amber Rudd to resign because she misled parliament over the government's immigration policy.

A Labour spokeswoman said: "If the architect of this cruel farce, the prime minister, is ordering her MPs to vote to keep her role in this mess hidden from the public, it exposes the Tories' crocodile tears on the Windrush scandal as a sham".

While interior minister between 2010 and 2016, Mrs May pioneered controversial policies meant to create a "hostile environment" for people in Britain illegally.

The row has prompted calls for the government to abandon its "hostile environment" policy on illegal immigration, which Ms Rudd and Mrs May continued to defend.

But Rudd's position worsened after she told lawmakers last week that the government didn't have targets for deporting people - only for a 2017 memo to emerge that mentioned specific targets for "enforced removals".

Some of the Windrush immigrants and their descendants who have called Britain their home for their entire lives were caught out by the government clampdown.

Asked about the "hostile environment" approach, Mr Javid said: "I think it is a phrase that is unhelpful and it does not represent our values as a country". Those affected belong to the Windrush generation, named for the ship Empire Windrush, which in 1948 brought hundreds of Caribbean immigrants to Britain to help it rebuild after the devastation of World War II.

Outrage over the plight of Windrush migrants - some of whom lost jobs and fell into debt as they struggled to prove their status - led to a personal apology from May to Caribbean leaders earlier this month. They are now under fire for unfairly ensnaring the Windrush generation - with fears European Union citizens could be similarly targeted post-Brexit.

The timing of the scandal is a huge headache for May, coming amid tricky Brexit negotiations and just days ahead of local elections on Thursday, with polls suggesting the Conservative Party could see big losses.

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