London, UK – A daughter of the Windrush generation has been left scarred by the UK’s immigration system as she risks being forcibly removed back to her home country of Jamaica, despite all her family having British citizenship.
Her children and grandchildren also moved to the UK and became British citizens. Yet the Home Office has repeatedly rejected her applications to remain, claiming she fails to have the necessary “family ties”.
The Jamaican national was one among the hundreds protesting outside Downing Street on Saturday, in support of the thousands of Caribbean immigrants affected by the Windrush scandal that has rocked the UK in the past months.
Williams has already been detained twice at one of the UK’s most infamous immigration removal centres, Yarl’s Wood.
Her entire family lives in the UK, yet authorities have been telling her that she has no family ties in the country and has to “go back home”.
But Williams said she dreads going to Jamaica as she doesn’t know anyone there and has nowhere to go.
The Right to Remain
Thousands of Windrush immigrants have recently been denied access to healthcare, lost their jobs and face deportation because they do not have the documentation to prove their right to remain.
The documentation is a new requirement under Prime Minister Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policies, which she implemented while serving as home secretary.
Windrush immigrants are facing deportation despite the fact that they were given indefinite leave to remain under the 1972 Immigration Act.
They had migrated to the UK upon invitation of the British government to help rebuild the country after it was destroyed during World War II.
Williams explained how her own mother, now 82 and ailing in a care home, dedicated decades of her life in the UK to nursing people in need.
“My mum came here and she worked all these years to build these places and to look after these old people… and that’s for nothing as it appears they are now refusing her rights to remain,” Williams said.
Williams pointed out the irony of her own children getting citizenship before her.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd was forced to resign last week over the scandal, after it emerged she had “misled” the public over the UK immigration removal targets.
Karen Doyle, from campaign group Movement for Justice who helped stop Williams from being put on a charter flight back to Jamaica, told Al Jazeera that Rudd promised in her apology that there would be justice for the children of the Windrush generation.
“Yvonne is one of those children,” Doyle said. “She is much a child of the Windrush generation as anyone else, even though she came in 2000 and should, therefore, be granted citizenship on that basis.”
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, speaking at the protest, said she was pleased she had spearheaded calls for Rudd to resign as the scandal had unravelled “under her watch”.
But she said May is the one who should be held to account.
“I am not under any illusion when it comes to the Windrush scandal, all roads lead back to Theresa May,” Abbott told protesters in Central London
“It was Theresa May who brought in the hostile environment.”
She explained how the hostile environment meant “teachers, doctors and nurses acting as immigration officers on wheels, and people being humiliated trying to get the services they were entitled to.”
Abbott called for the government to release figures on how many Windrush immigrants had been removed and detained.
The Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has previously suggested those affected by the scandal get financial compensation.
Williams, who claims she spent over £10,000 ($13,500) on repeated efforts to legalise her status in the UK, agreed with this call.
She also called for amnesty for the whole Windrush generation, demanding they all be given the papers they need to carry on with their lives in the UK.