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UK faces outcry over treatment of former child immigrants

Press Trust of India  |  London 

A dispute over Britain's treatment of people who came to the country as children decades ago has erupted just as the country prepares to host leaders from the 53-nation Commonwealth.

Britain had wanted to use this week's summit in of the alliance of the UK and its former colonies to help Britain bolster trade and diplomatic ties around the world after it leaves the next year.

But trade topics are being overshadowed by anger over what some in the Commonwealth see as the UK's shabby treatment of residents of origin.

British Theresa May's office said Monday that she would meet with her counterparts in for the Commonwealth summit to discuss the situation of long-term U.K. residents who say they have been threatened with deportation to their countries of birth.

Members of the "Windrush generation" - named for the ship Empire Windrush, which brought the first big group of post-war immigrants to Britain in 1948 - came from what were then British colonies or newly independent states and had an automatic right to settle in the UK.

But some from that generation, now aging and long-times residents in Britain, say they have been denied medical treatment or threatened with deportation because they can't produce papers to prove it.

The has taken an increasingly tough line on immigration, which has increased dramatically over the last 10 or 15 years, largely as result of people moving to the U.K. from other EU countries.

A desire to control immigration was a major factor for many who voted in 2016 for Britain to leave the bloc.

Critics say the has, by design or accident, taken a hostile attitude to the thousands of people who have made Britain their home.

told the today day that he felt Britain was telling people from the Caribbean "you are no longer welcome."

Some 140 UK lawmakers have signed a letter urging the government to find an "immediate and effective" response to concerns from Commonwealth-born residents over their immigration status.

said Monday the government must "do a better job" to put people's minds at ease.

"People should not be concerned about this - they have the right to stay and we should be reassuring them of that," Mordaunt told the

The Commonwealth links 2.4 billion people on five continents, in countries from vast and wealthy to small island states like and It espouses good governance, economic growth and human rights, but is seen by some as a vestige of the British empire with an uncertain mission in the 21st century.

Elizabeth II, who will formally open the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at on Thursday, has done much to unite the group. She has visited nearly every Commonwealth nation, often multiple times, over her 66-year reign.

The 91-year-old has given up long-distance travel, so this is likely to be the last Commonwealth summit she presides over. Heir to the throne will not automatically succeed her as of the Commonwealth, which says the choice of its next leader will be a decision for the group.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 16 2018. 17:50 IST