Home Secretary Amber Rudd should “consider her position” over the “misery” caused to Windrush migrants, Labour’s shadow home secretary says.
“So many things have gone wrong,” Diane Abbott told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, and Ms Rudd should take responsibility for them.
She accused Ms Rudd of withholding information about how many people have been wrongly detained or deported.
The government has apologised to those affected.
And it has set up a task force to prevent the children of first generation Commonwealth migrants from being deported because they haven’t got the right paperwork.
Some have lost their jobs and access to NHS services, or been detained in immigration removal centres. This is because a change in the law means they must prove they have been living in the UK. All despite being in the country legally for decades.
It has now emerged that documents that had been used by officials to help establish when people arrived in the UK were destroyed by the Home Office in 2010. This is when Theresa May was home secretary.
The landing cards were filled out by Commonwealth migrants arriving in the UK. It was a process which began with the Empire Windrush ship in 1948. They had been stored in the basement of an office in Croydon.
However, they were “disposed of” during an office move to comply with, the Home Office says, data protection laws.
The Home Office says the cards were not definitive proof of continuous residence in the UK. Employment and school records were a more reliable method, they said.
Changes to migration rules introduced when May was home secretary mean those who lack documents are now being told they need evidence to continue working, access key services or even remain in the UK.
This is what happened to 60-year-old Anthony Bryan. He lost his job when he received a letter informing him he had no right to remain in the UK.
He says: “It was a shock because I have always thought I was legal, I was British. I have been here from when I was eight. I didn’t give it another thought.”
Mr Bryan, who came to Britain from Jamaica in 1965, was held in a detention centre twice for nearly three weeks last year.
He has since been given leave to remain but is still waiting for legal paperwork to confirm his right to stay.