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  • Peri Batliwala

Telegraph article brands Chagossians' immigration struggles "new Windrush"

A substantial and well-illustrated feature in The Telegraph by Joe Wallen on 1st March 2019 highlighted the long-running story of unfair immigration policies towards Chagossians, comparing their plight to the Windrush generation of West Indian immigrants whose shoddy treatment has caused a major scandal for Theresa May’s government. The full article can be read here

It focuses in particular on third generation Chagossian youngsters who – under present immigration law – are not entitled to claim the same British citizens’ residency rights as their parents and grandparents if they were born abroad. As Alexander Finch, from the legal firm Fragomen who acts for these families spells out “They may have been brought here as children and will only see the effects once they turn 18…They often end up not only destitute, but vulnerable to exploitation… others have already been deported, breaking up families”.

Citing the heartbreaking stories of several families thus affected, it shows the human cost of this unfair and divisive law, causing families to run up huge debts for legal action and causing stress and uncertainty.

Many people have spoken up to condemn British cruelty towards Chagossians – by the original historic crime of illegal exile in the 1960s and now through this arbitrary immigration policy but so far the Foreign Office have proved intractable.

We can only hope that Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, who has raised concerns over his constituents' treatment in Parliament and whose British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill is currently on its second reading in the House of Commons will be successful. If approved, it will give all descendants of the Chagos Islanders citizenship in the UK – the least they deserve for decades of injustice.

#ChagosIslanders #Chagossians #Immigration #Deportation #Citizenship #Media

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