Theresa May will meet Caribbean state leaders this week after deportation threats to “Windrush generation” immigrants sparked widespread alarm.
The news is a U-turn for the Prime Minister after she refused a formal diplomatic request to discuss concerns leaders have for scores of long-term British residents incorrectly deemed illegal immigrants.
Downing Street confirmed the news in a statement after sustained cross-party pressure to take action but said the PM only became aware of the request on Monday morning.
May’s official spokesman said: “She deeply values the contribution made by these and all Commonwealth citizens who have made a life in the UK, and is making sure the Home Office is offering the correct solution for individual situations.
“She is aware that many people are unlikely to have documents that are over 40 years old and she is clear that no-one with the right to be here will be made to leave.”
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, meanwhile, set the stage for the government to row back on the issue, tweeting he was “deeply concerned” and ministers were “looking into this urgently”.
Thousands who answered the post-World War II call to come to the UK to work in essential services are being denied access to state healthcare, losing their jobs and even being threatened with deportation.
Labour MP David Lammy had co-ordinated a letter to the PM condemning the ”grotesque, immoral and inhumane” situation.
I’m deeply concerned to hear about difficulties some of the Windrush generation are facing with their immigration status. This should not happen to people who have been longstanding pillars of our community. The government is looking into this urgently
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) April 16, 2018
It won cross-party support from a string of high-profile MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Tom Tugendhat.
It comes as Commonwealth leaders gathered for a summit in London.
Lammy, chair of the Race and Community All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “It is a stain on our nation’s conscience and the Prime Minister must act urgently to right this historic wrong.
“After World War II we invited the Windrush Generation over as citizens to help rebuild our country, and now their children are being treated like criminals.
“The government is essentially stripping people of the rights that our government itself granted decades ago. These individuals have done nothing wrong and there is no basis upon which the Home Office can justify what they are doing. Some of the cases that have caught the public’s attention are truly heart-breaking. These individuals have lived in this country for decades – working hard, paying taxes, raising their families and contributing so much to our country.
“The Home Office is treating these individuals like criminals whenever they come into contact with the state and this situation has left thousands of people too scared and anxious to seek to clarify their own status for fear that they will be stripped of their status or deported back to a country that they have no memory of and is certainly not their home. Their home is here.”