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United Kingdom: Windrush scandal shows hostile environment must end
20 April 2018

Albert Thompson (name changed), 63 years old, has lived in London for 44 years. He has prostate cancer. After major surgery, he arrived for his first radiotherapy session to be taken aside and told that unless he can prove he is legally entitled to live in the UK he will have to pay the full £54,000 for his treatment upfront. (

London, 20 April 2018 - Responding to the welcome news that the Government has bowed to media pressure and reversed its mistreatment of Windrush-era citizens, the Jesuit Refugee Service in the UK (JRS UK) has called on the Home Secretary to abandon its cruel hostile environment agenda altogether.

Following weeks of stories about Windrush–era citizens losing their rights to work, to rent property and to access free healthcare under tightening immigration laws, Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was yesterday forced to apologise for the “appalling” actions of her department. Addressing Parliament, she stated that the Home Office had become “too concerned with policy” and had “lost sight of the individual”. The Home Secretary announced the creation of a new taskforce tasked with resolving the immigration status of Commonwealth-born long-term UK residents.

However, JRS UK has long been drawing attention to the aggressive web of policies that constitute the hostile environment agenda, and sees the same cruelty meted out to asylum seekers as faced by the Windrush-era citizens. This Home Office policy of aggression towards undocumented migrants leaves those JRS UK serves unable to access government support and prohibited from working, and so forced into destitution, reliant wholly on charities to meet their most basic needs.

In response to the Home Secretary’s announcement JRS UK Director, Sarah Teather, said:

“JRS welcomes the announcement that the gross mistreatment of Windrush citizens is to be abandoned. In these citizens, the government has been forced to consider immigration policy through a more human lens and so to glimpse the devastation that its hostile environment agenda wreaks on human lives.

However, the hostile environment has far wider consequences. In our work at the Jesuit Refugee Service, we see daily how it crushes the lives of many who have come here in search of safety. If the Home Secretary is serious about delivering an immigration policy that cares about human lives, she must now reflect deeply on the direction of travel of the department she leads and abandon the hostile environment agenda altogether.”

First published on 17 April 2018 on the JRS UK website

Further reading:

The Guardian: Theresa May's 'hostile environment' at heart of Windrush scandal (with quotes from JRS UK director, Sarah Teather)

The Guardian: Home Office destroyed Windrush landing cards, says ex-staffer (with background Q&A)

Press Contact Information
Martina Bezzini