Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Hostile Environment

Glasgow-born jazz artist Bumi Thomas has been informed that she had 14 days to leave the country or make herself subject for deportation or detainment.

She  was born in Scotland in June 1983 after the British Nationality Act was passed by the Thatcher government in January that year; it stated that children born to parents from the colonies were no longer entitled to automatic citizenship. An immigration tribunal judge ruled in favour of withdrawing the threat of deportation, but she must wait two years before she can apply for British citizenship. Her status is still at the mercy of a divisive immigration policy.

Thomas is one of thousands of people with roots in former colonies, including the Windrush generation, who were made suddenly precarious thanks to a renewed “hostile environment” policy. She had, like many others, assumed she was a British citizen with dual nationality – the 1983 change “was not well communicated to the public in the UK or in the colonies”. After all, her sister, born in the same circumstances but before 1983, is British.  In the early 70s, Thomas’s parents owned a hair salon in Glasgow called Hairlynks, the site of significant black music history.

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