India, UK Fail to Ink Pact on Return of Illegal Immigrants

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UK Prime Minister Theresa May were supposed to finalize the deal over expediting the process of the return of illegal immigrants.


India and the United Kingdom have put off signing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries regarding returning illegal immigrants. The two nations were supposed to ink the deal during the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom during the Commonwealth leaders meeting in April.

Talks had been going on since months and one of the reasons for the failure to sign the pact was said to be May’s government getting embroiled with an immigration row regarding its treatment of the citizens of the Commonwealth, reported Hindustan Times.

Modi, during his visit to the United Kingdom from April 16 to 18 for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting London 2018, was supposed to sign the deal with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

“The MoU would have added to the government’s problems, which was still grappling with the Commonwealth-Windrush immigration issue. It will happen later after the process, wording and conditions are conducive for both sides,” a senior official said, the Hindustan Times reported.

May had said in 2016, during her first India visit as the prime minister of the United Kingdom that the visa deal could be improved “if, at the same time, we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain in the United Kingdom”.

The May-led government was embroiled in a controversy over their treatment of commonwealth immigrants. The scandal has come to be known as the Windrush controversy because of a ship called HMT Empire Windrush, a ship, on which West Indian people came to England after the WWII. In a bid to reduce undocumented immigrants in the country, the government had pressurized those West Indian who had come to the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados when the country had severe shortage of labor after the WWII to leave.  May had apologized and said that the Windrush generation immigrants will be compensated for the trauma.

“When you discuss an MoU or an agreement, there is a process which is involved. And sometimes, the process takes a bit of time before it can be concluded. But unfortunately, on this occasion, the process could not be completed in time for it to be ready, this is not the end. I think there will be occasions where it can be done,” an official from the Ministry of External Affairs was quoted as saying by HT.

The MoU’s text was finalized during minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju’s visit to London in January this 2017 and was initialed by the UK minister for immigration Caroline Nokes. According to the MoU, authorities will have 70 days to verify and confirm the identity of suspected illegal Indians.

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