The United Kingdom’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is to investigate what has been described as “hostile immigration policies” at the Home Office.
The watchdog said it would launch legal action to review whether the Department complied with equality law when implementing curbs on immigration.
The move comes two years after the Windrush scandal revealed that thousands of people who came to the UK from the Commonwealth as part of a post-war rebuilding effort were denied access to public services and jobs — with some dying abroad after being deported.
A “lessons learned” review carried out for the Home Office in March stopped short of branding the Department “institutionally racist”.
However, it found the Home Office had shown “ignorance and thoughtlessness” on the issue of race, and the EHRC’s new action will look at whether the Agency breached equalities law.
Chair of the EHRC, David Isaac (pictured) said the assessment would look at “how the Department engaged with affected individuals and communities to understand the relevant historical and contextual factors when developing immigration policy from 2012-to-18”.
“The Windrush scandal and hostile environment policies have cast a shadow across the UK and its values,” Mr Isaac said.
“We are working with the Home Office to determine what must change so that this shameful period of our history is not repeated,” he said.
Mr Isaac said the impact of COVID-19 and the killing of George Floyd by United States police officers “have resulted in urgent calls for action to end the systemic and entrenched race inequalities that exist in our country”.
Justice Spokesperson for the Opposition Labour Party, David Lammy said as a result of the Home Office’s hostile environment “thousands of black Britons were detained, deported, made homeless, jobless or denied healthcare by their own Government”.
A Home Office spokesperson said its Minister, Priti Patel “was determined to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation”.
The EHRC said its initial assessment would be completed by September.
London, 17 June 2020