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In the UK went with the Windrush



Amber Rudd

She lost her job as UK Home Secretary over the weekend in a growing immigration scandal. Nevertheless, there is a chance that the British political class – and voters – is wasting this crisis.

wife. Rudd's resignation is the latest fallout from the Windrush scandal. For two decades, beginning in the late 1940s, the United Kingdom accepted migrants from the entire empire (later the Commonwealth) who were rebuilt after the Second World War. Known as the "Windrush Generation" because one of the first ships they brought was the HMT Empire Windrush, hundreds of thousands and their children worked hard, paid taxes and assimilated into British society.

A 1

971 law granted these migrants permanent residence in the UK and a path to citizenship. But an unknown number has never received formal proof of their immigration status because they did not know they needed it or that they had lost the relevant papers. Now they are in conflict with a 2012 law that requires employers, landlords and even hospitals to verify the immigration status of potential tenants, employees or patients. Some face the deportation.

This law was a product of the Prime Minister

Theresa May

As Minister of the Interior, she has promised to create a "hostile environment" for illegal immigrants.

David Cameron

had pledged in 2010 to reduce the annual net immigration to below 100,000. As Britain could not limit the arrival of EU countries, Prime Minister Cameron and Ms May had to restrict other qualified immigrants. They also concluded that expanding deportations could help them achieve their goals.

Rudd resigned after misleading Parliament last week about whether the Home Office would seek a certain number of deportations each year. The Home Office did so, referring back to the term of office of Ms May, and Ms Rudd said that this was not the case. Ms. Rudd takes the case for guidelines that were first implemented on Mrs. May's observation.

Part of the Conservative Recovery Plan is to appoint

Sajid Javid,

formerly the Minister of Housing, to Mrs. Rudd's job. Mr. Javid is one of the Cabinet's clearer thinkers on economic policy issues. As the son of modest-minded immigrants with a successful career in business, he may be able to educate his colleagues on the benefits of immigration.

Voters around the world have become skeptical of open immigration, but in the UK, few have tried to persuade voters to accept a more modest discipline in migration, such as limiting benefits to the youngest arrivals or the limitation of net immigration. By the time Mr. Cameron tried, he had already lost credibility by failing to keep a numerical promise.

Voters who were shocked by the Ministry of Interior's mistreatment of the Windrush generation might ask what they thought possible. They elected politicians who pledged to reduce numerical targets. A Sky Data survey last week found that 53% of voters favor deportation quotas, but 54% believe that suffering Windrush migrants is "not a worthwhile price" to prevent illegal immigration. The teachable moment here is that draconian immigration restrictions are, well, draconian – a lesson that is also valid for America's debates about the dreamer illegally brought to the US as children.

The temptation will be to view Windrush as a scandal of bureaucratic incompetence, and there's plenty to see. But the bigger scandal is that politicians and undecided voters have been pushing each other into immigration policies that shock the public when they come to light.

Published in the printed edition of May 1, 2018.


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