Theresa May defends controversial ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy

Theresa May has defended her “hostile environment” immigration policies which led to people from the so-called Windrush generation to lose their jobs, welfare benefits and right to remain in the UK.

Mrs May (pictured) apologised for the fact that many long-standing UK residents of Caribbean origin had been caught by her Immigration Act, but declined to apologise for the policy itself.

Pressed several times on the issue during an interview as the Conservative conference got under way in Birmingham, Mrs May said that it was right for the Act to target individuals who were in the country illegally, but that it should not have been applied in Windrush cases.

Mrs May told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “The point of the policy was to ensure that those people who were here in the UK illegally were identified and that appropriate action was taken.

“What went wrong was that people from the Windrush generation who were here legally, who had every right to be here, who had helped to build our great national institutions, found themselves unable to show that through documentation and got caught up in that.

“I think for most people, they do want to know that the Government is taking action against those people who come to this country illegally or stay in this country illegally.

“What we need to do is make sure that in doing that, we don’t find people who have every right to be here being caught up in it. That’s what went wrong.”

She added: “I apologise for the fact that some people who should not have been caught up in that were caught up in that, with, in some cases, tragic results.”

Mrs May was asked how many people from the Windrush generation had lost their homes, their jobs and their benefits or been refused NHS treatment as a result of her hostile environment policy.

She did not provide any figures but told Andrew Marr: “What we have been doing is looking at every aspect of the impact on people from the Windrush generation.

“These people are British. We have apologised for what happened to these people. This should never have happened to people.

“It is right that we are making every effort to ensure that we can give people, not just the right papers, but the confidence and the reassurance of knowing that what they always felt and knew, and that what everybody else always felt and knew, is not in question. They are part of us.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture – Theresa May in a 2017 appeareance on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show (c) Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire.