The government has announced it will effectively fast-track citizenship for people affected by the Windrush scandal, even if they lack a full set of documents to prove their status.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said anyone who has suffered from the scandal will be able to apply without facing the usual fees and tests and will be treated more leniently if they lack needed documentation.
She also confirmed that a new scheme will be established to pay compensation to those who have suffered financial loss from the debacle.
Ms Rudd emphasised her commitment to tackling illegal immigration, but admitted the government’s approach have had an “unintended and sometimes devastating” impact on people from the Windrush generation who are here legally but have struggled to get documentation to prove their status.
As he spoke in the Commons, Ms Rudd was heckled by Labour MPs who shouted that that Conservative immigration policy since 2010 was to blame for the disaster.
Ms Rudd told MPs: “It was never the intention that the Windrush generation should be disadvantaged by measures put in place to tackle illegal immigration.
“These people worked here for decades. In many cases they helped establish the NHS. They paid the taxes, enriched our culture they are British in all but legal status – and this should never have been allowed to happen.”
Promising to “put this right”, Ms Rudd said fees and language tests will be waived for anyone from the Windrush generation and their children who have been targeted by immigration officials.
She also said that citizenship applications would be allowed even where people affected in the Windrush generation lacked the adequate pieces of documentary evidence to prove their status.
Ms Rudd confirmed that compensation would be available for those who had suffered loss, as announced by Theresa May.
But Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott branded the incident “one of the biggest scandals in the administration of home affairs”.