UK urged to resolve plight of Caribbean-born undocumented residents

Caribbean Commonwealth high commissioners have called for the UK government to resolve the issue of  elderly Caribbean-born undocumented residents, including Jamaicans at risk of  being deported by the Home Office.

Many of  the Caribbean-born individuals whose undocumented status has now been called into question, arrived in the UK as children under their parent's passports at a time when their island was still a British colony.

These now elderly Caribbean-born individuals have no formal identity documentation as they assumed they were automatically British citizens.

 Although the British Nationality Act 1948 granted British citizenship to individuals from Commonwealth countries, the introduction of  the 1971 Immigration Act restricted free movement of  Commonwealth citizens, although it did grant indefinite leave to remain for those who arrived before that year.

According to the Migration Observatory of  the University of  Oxford, up to 50,000 Commonwealth-born residents who arrived in the UK pre-1971 have not had their residency status made permanent.

Since 2012, the Home Office enforced systematic immigration checks on those intending to open bank accounts, applying for a driving licence, and accessing medical care.

The demand of  burden of  proof has meant that undocumented Commonwealth-born UK residents, the majority of  whom are from the Caribbean, have had to produce documentation that predates 1971 to prove their residency.

Numerous cases pointing to the harsh treatment of  undocumented residents by the Home Office have emerged over the past few months.

Paulette Wilson, a grandmother who lived and worked in the UK for 51 years, was detained in Yarl's Wood Immigration Centre and threatened with deportation to Jamaica, a country she had not visited since the age of 10, after she was told she was illegal.

Wilson is one of  many individuals deemed illegal by the Home Office, resulting in the denial of  their right to work, their access to bank accounts and medical care, subsequently being forced to report to detention centres with threats of  deportation.


Meanwhile, a 63 year old Jamaican man who has lived in London for 44 years has been told he must pay 54 thousand pounds up front for life-saving therapy on the National Health Service (NHS).

Albert Thompson who has worked in the UK for three decades and paid his taxes has been denied healthcare as the Home Office can find no record on him.

In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper, Thompson said he lost the passport he arrived in the UK with several years ago.

Without a British passport — which he has never had and cannot now get because there is no documentary proof of  his arrival in the UK as a teenager in 1973 — landlords will not house him, and the NHS has told him that it will not give him further treatment.


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