HMT Windrush was the name of the troopship that originally carried thousands of West Indian immigrants from Jamaica to the United Kingdom in the late 1940’s and throughout the 1950’s. These people became known as the Windrush generation and were granted leave to stay in the UK indefinitely, based on Britain’s colonial relations. However many of these people didn’t possess papers/passports and never felt the need to do so. Unless, of course, any of them ever travelled to the mother country to visit relatives.
Recently the UK immigration services had begun deporting those without the requisite paperwork. It’s a big deal, especially as Jamaica is technically part of the Commonwealth. What more galling is that the UK government destroyed any of the old records that were kept at the time of the Windrush migration. Thus meaning that many of the older generation, who came to the UK as children, are in danger of having to leave the only country they’ve ever really lived in.
As I write this, there are reports that the Government has been forced into an embarrassing apology. Rightly so, given the human costs of such a calamitous cock-up. Yet why are we surprised that such a mistake ever happened?
The world is currently plagued by a nationalist, closed-border, immigrants-are-nasty agenda. This far-right thinking is increasing in popularity. Given that it’s most vocal global exponent is the President of the United States, we should call this disease Trumpitis. He’s given life and momentum to this disdainful ideology which is creating exaggerated suspicion of immigrants the world over.
Even those in the US who have migrated legally there and have thrived and prospered are being targeted. A country which prides itself in the military and the over-veneration of veterans is turning it’s back on those who have served but are of the wrong heritage. Young adults, many of whom were barely at walking age when they entered the US, are in danger of being returned to countries they have no real connection with. Laughably (sadly so) Trump revoked the DACA protections afforded to these young people and now blames everyone else for not fixing the problem.
It’s no coincidence that the fear levels are rising in those minority communities since the advent of Brexit and Trump. Previously the threats to their lives and mental well-being flew under the radar and were low-key. Today it must feel like an all-out assault is being waged against them. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the same will happen here in Ireland.
Statistics and studies have shown repeatedly that migration has a predominantly positive effect on the host nation’s economic and cultural health. Dreamers in the US contribute billions of dollars in Federal taxes. Migrants want to work. The majority does not wish to scrounge as the alt-right or far-right wingnuts would have you believe. The treatment of the Windrush and DACA generations, which span all ages, is a sign of how far we’ve fallen as a species.
The only way to cure Trumpitis? Get out and vote, whatever country you live in and return the right-wing populists back to the fringes.