Campaigners are hoping to force the government to respond to a petition calling for legal aid to be extended to people forced to prove their immigration status in the UK.
The petition, created by Anna McMorrin, Labour MP for Cardiff North, has attracted more than 400 signatures so far. The government must respond if 10,000 people sign.
The petition states: 'The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 saw immigration being taken "out of scope" for legal aid from [April 2013]. This has affected people forced to prove their immigration status in the UK, despite living here lawfully, including the Windrush era and their families.
'This petition calls on the government to make legal aid available to all applicants who are now forced to prove their immigration status in the UK and to help them secure confirmation of their entitlement to British citizenship.'
McMorrin told the Gazette that people are afraid to come forward 'because when they do, there is no help or support to prove their immigration status in the UK, despite living here lawfully. They tell us that they are living in fear, petrified of being sent to a country that they don’t know'.
She added: 'The government cannot undo the trauma, pain, and suffering that has already been caused, but together we can ensure people can access the legal aid, support, dignity, justice and compensation that they deserve as British citizens.'
The Windrush scandal has prompted renewed calls for the government to restore immigration legal aid.
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said that ‘if the government now wants to show it is serious about ending this “hostile environment” then one simple step would be to immediately return legal aid for all immigration law advice’.
Meanwhile Leigh Day is preparing a potential group action against the government on behalf of the ‘Windrush generation’ over the effects of the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy.