By Jamie Grierson/Guardian News & Media
A specialist taskforce set up to help people who believe they are victims of the Windrush scandal is to start the process of refusing cases deemed to be ineligible for documentation or citizenship.
The Windrush taskforce was created after it emerged that long-term residents of Britain had been wrongly targeted by Theresa May’s hostile environment policy to tackle illegal immigration and were being told to prove their right to be in the country or leave.
People were invited to contact the taskforce for support in obtaining documentation and citizenship.
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed late on Friday that the first refusals would be issued to people in the UK who, though they have the right to remain in the country, have been found not to qualify for citizenship because serious criminality has meant they failed to meet the necessary good character requirement.
People in this category included those with convictions for murder, child sexual offences, the supply of drugs and robbery, the Home Office said.
Refusals will also begin to be issued to people who have applied for documentation from abroad but have been found to be ineligible as they were not able to provide sufficient evidence that they were settled in the UK before January 1, 1973.
The Home Office said the rejections were being made only after significant efforts by the taskforce to gather evidence needed to support applications.
The number of refusals has not been disclosed.
Those refused documentation or citizenship can request a free review of the decision.
Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, accused Javid of going “back on his promise” and “asking for documents he knows people do not have”.
“The Windrush generation are British citizens,” she said. “So it is scandalous that the Home Office should subject them to conditions that other British citizens are not.”
Her party colleague David Lammy wrote: “Sajid Javid promised to ‘do right’ by the Windrush generation. Today he has failed them.
“It’s a disgrace that this announcement has been snuck out on such a heavy news day.”
Javid said: “The Windrush generation have helped build this country as they themselves have built a life here.
“I am appalled by what some people have been through but am delighted that our taskforce is helping so many people to establish their right to be here and gain British citizenship.
“We are doing all we can to gather the information needed to enable applications to be processed successfully and quickly.
“We are looking for reasons to grant rather than refuse but we need to ensure that only those who should be benefiting from this scheme are benefiting.
“All refusals have followed careful and deliberate consideration. No decision has been taken lightly and applicants will be able to have the refusal reviewed free of charge if they disagree.”
In the same update, Javid revealed that 2,121 members of the Windrush generation ha d been granted citizenship.
In addition, 2,398 people have been able to secure documentation confirming their right to be in the UK through the taskforce and a further 156 people have done so through the Windrush scheme application process.
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