A member of the Windrushgenerationwho was wrongly detained and threatened with deportation said he does not believe it would have happened if he had been a different race.
Anthony Bryan, who has lived in the UK since he was eight-years-old, told MPsthat had he come from Canada and not Jamaica, hethinks thathe would not have faced such problems.
Speaking beforethe Human Rights Committee, he added that he thoughtracial discrimination was a problem in the Home Office.
I hate to say it, but I dont think Id have this problem ifI had come from Canada instead of coming from Jamaica,” thegrandfather from north Londonsaid, as he described his experience of being classified as an illegal citizen, despite having lived in the countryfor decades.
Sitting next to him was his wife Janet, who added that it was “because of the colour of your skin”.
Baroness (Doreen) Lawrence of Clarendon,whose son Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993, askd whether he believed race played a big part.
“In the Home Office, yeah,” he said.
Mr Bryan was held in a detention centre twice, for almost three weeks, last year.
Ididnt believe they could do anything because I had been here so long.I was in primary school here,” he told MPs. “Ididnt believe it until they came banging on the door to take me into detention.
Paulette Wilson, who was also detained for a week in a centre and narrowly avoided deportation despite having livedin Britain for 50 years, also gave evidence.
I had the feeling I was going to be put on the plane the next day,” she said, adding:”I would be in Jamaica all alone. Ididnt know anyone over there. I thought they were sending me to die.
The pair were both members of the Windrushgeneration – people who arrived from the Caribbean between the late1940sand early1970s.
The name a reference to the ship MV Empire Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex, in June 1948, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, as a response to post-war labour shortages in the UK.
Although they have every right to be in the country, some have beentargeted by immigration officials.
As a result somehave lost jobs and homes for failing to have the right paperwork, while others have reportedly been denied critical medical treatment and being targeted for deportation.
Their testimony after came home secretarySajidJavid revealed earlier this week thatthe Home Office was investigating 63 cases involving people of Caribbean descent , who may have been removed from the country despite living in the UK legally for decades.
He told MPs:The department has been going back and checking its records from 2002 onwards looking at all removals and deportations of Caribbean nationals aged over 45, meaning they could have potentially benefited from the 1971 Act.So far, we have found 63 cases where individuals could have entered the UK before 1973.”
Of the 63 cases, Mr Javid said 32 were foreign national offenders and 31 were administrative removals of which he said all but one were voluntary removals, meaning they left because they received letters saying they must leave.