Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:12 pm on 2nd May 2018.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 2:12 pm, 2nd May 2018

A number of hon. Members want to contribute to this important debate, and I am anxious to make progress.

Ministers now express their concern about the Windrush generation, saying that they came here, were invited and have contributed to this country’s prosperity. I might add that the Windrush generation enriched us in many other ways too, socially and culturally. That is what migrants do. Overwhelmingly, they come to build a better life for themselves and their family—wherever they are from, wherever they are going—and in building a better life for themselves and their family, they contribute to the prosperity of all. That is why it is time that we had a more positive narrative on migration.

As we heard earlier, Government Members and Front Benchers would far prefer to talk about illegal immigration than the plight of the Windrush generation. As I said earlier, no one on the Opposition Benches supports illegal migration. We are all in favour of the removal of people who are here illegally. We could start with the number of prisoners who judges have directed should be removed at end of sentence, but many are not removed because of an organisational failure by the Home Office in getting the paperwork correct.

For our part, the Labour party has pledged to recruit 500 extra border guards to deal with illegal immigration, people and drug trafficking, and smuggling. We do not want to support illegal immigrants; we want to prevent people who do not have the right to be here from entering the country. This Government and their immediate predecessors cut the border guards, so it is distressing to hear them talk about illegal immigration, rather than focusing on what is happening to the Windrush generation.

The Windrush generation are here legally, yet they continue to be talked about by some Government Members as if they were here illegally. The Government were warned that negative outcomes for Commonwealth citizens who had been here for decades would be a consequence of their hostile environment policy. Many people in the House warned them, including myself, as well as many others outside the House.