Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Windrush offspring loses the High Court battle for his status

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The son of a Windrush survivor said he was “devastated” after losing a High Court dispute with Home Secretary Priti Patel over his immigration status.

Damian Gabrielle, 39, who moved to the UK from St Lucia aged 18 and lives in Catford, south-east London, tried to challenge the Home Office’s refusal to legalize his status.

However, the judge, Ms Justice Ellenbogen, disagreed on Friday, refusing to give him the green light for a judicial review after reviewing arguments put forward by the plaintiff’s lawyers earlier this week, saying Mr Gabrielle did not have a viable case .

“I am absolutely devastated by today’s decision,” Mr Gabrielle said in response to the result.

“Most of my adult life has been in limbo as I have done my best to build a future here against this uncertain background. For me, Great Britain is my home.”

Lawyers representing Mr Gabrielle said his father, Alexander Prospere, arrived in the UK from St Lucia in 1961, aged 19.

Solicitor Grace Brown, who led Mr Gabrielle’s legal team, told the judge that the government’s Windrush scheme said a child of a Commonwealth citizen parent who arrived in the UK before the age of 18 was eligible for a residence permit.

She said the position of adult children is a matter of “public importance” that should be subject to judicial review.

Ms Brown said Mr Prospere was a “windrush victim” and argued that he could not support his son’s application to enter the UK before Mr Gabrielle turned 18 as his status as a British citizen was only confirmed in 2019.

She argued that Mr Gabrielle was a victim of the injustice suffered by his father, which the judge contradicted by saying children under the age of 18 were dependent on their parents.

She added that there is no denying that adult children find themselves in an “analogous position.”

Lawyers representing Ms Patel argued that adult children of Windrush victims are in the same position as any other person living in any country who wishes to live in the UK.

The judge said she agreed with that argument and also denied three other requests for judicial review by adult children of members of the Windrush generation.

They had not argued that the parents could not support their applications because of difficulties in confirming immigration status.

Richard Arthur of Thompson Solicitors, representing Mr Gabrielle, said: “Today’s decision supports the Home Office’s petty bureaucratic view and goes against the stated aims of the Windrush program – to right the wrongs of the past.

“The two Windrush programs – immigration regularization and compensation – have rightly come under heavy criticism.

“These plans were intended to ‘redress the wrongs’ done to the Windrush generation, including reparations for their family members.

“Instead, with rigid and arbitrary rules, they are virtually impossible to access and perpetuate the very discrimination they are designed to remedy.”

He added: “We are deeply disappointed that the hopes of Damian Gabrielle – and countless others like him – have been dashed by this decision.”

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