Chagossians demand fair Citizenship settlement following Windrush

In the last few weeks, UK headlines have been dominated by the story of the Windrush generation. These were people who came to the UK legally many years ago, but now through no fault of their own now face being denied the right to work, access to pensions, health services and, in some cases, facing deportation.

Although a shock for most people, for many Chagossian families in the UK it's all very familiar.

A legal change in the early 2000s allowed Chagossians born on the islands, and their children, a route to British citizenship. Many Chagossians born in exile took this chance to bring their young families the UK, completely legally.

But that first generation born in exile can not pass on their citizenship status to their children. Because of the deportation, they were not born on the islands and so do not have that right.

So when those children who came to the UK legally with their parents reach 18, they are then treated like any other immigrants. And must go through an expensive, complex and time-consuming process to either win a visa or attain British citizenship.

Henry Smith's Chagos Citizenship Bill aims to resolve some of these issues, which are a direct consequence of the deportations of the late 1960s and early 1970s. On Friday, it was due to get it's Second Reading in Parliament, gaining some press attention. Although this did not happen, owing to a lack of time, we hope the media attention will encourage the government to pick up the measures the Bill calls for to resolve some of these issues.

Media Summary

Our Patron Benjamin Zephaniah had an opinion piece published in the Guardian, calling on people to "make some noise" for the Chagos Islanders, in the same way public anger seems to have forced action on the Windrush issue.

Meanwhile Al-Jazeera went to meet members of the Chagossian community affected by these issues in Crawley, recording the video report above, with a written report on their website.

The i newspaper also reported on the Bill, and the problems Chagossians face.

In Parliament

Meanwhile in Parliament, the fate of Chagossians faced with the threat of deportation was raised by SNP MP Patrick Grady during a debate on Home Office removal targets. In response, the Minister said she was aware of Henry Smith's Chagos Citizenship Bill and added that she "looked forward to hearing the arguments on it."

Stephen Doughty MP also raised the immigration challenges faced by Chagossians during a Home Affairs Select committee session with Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Let's hope all this attention encourages the government to take action quickly, and back the changes that Henry Smith's Bill proposes. In the meantime, you can help by supporting the Fighting Fund we'e set up to support Chagossian families struggling with visa costs and signing the Chagos Islanders Movement petition backing Mr Smith's Bill.

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