Sajid Javid: From Immigrant Parents to UK Home Secretary

Sajid Javid became the first British Pakistani to become the UK Home Secretary. We take a look at his career and challenges in his new role.

Sajid Javid

"I will do whatever it takes to put it right."

There’s no doubt that Sajid Javid has undertaken a momentous journey. After overcoming obstacles to success in his childhood, Javid has become a self-made millionaire and now holds the position of Home Secretary.

DESIblitz takes a look at how he has reached this point from his humble beginnings as a second-generation immigrant. Focusing in particular on the Windrush Scandal and Javid’s response.

We outline his private, academic and professional background. Ranging from his time in education and Parliament through to the current allegations of cash-for-visa scams facing the Home Secretary’s uncles, and Javid’s plans for a ‘fairer, more compassionate’ immigration system.

Background of Sajid Javid

Abdul Ghani Javid, Sajid’s father, and Sajid’s mother came to Britain from Pakistan in the 1960’s. Javid was born in Rochdale where his father worked as a bus driver. Later, he was bought up in Bristol.

The first in his family to go to university, Javid continued his studies at the University of Exeter where he studied Economics and Politics.

Despite his school career advisor suggesting children like himself should not aim too high, Sajid utilised his degree and went on to have a very successful career in banking.

Since then, he has become a self-made millionaire, making his money during his twenty-year period as a banker. After his banking career, Sajid turned his attention to politics.

As a member of Parliament for Bromsgrove since 2010, Javid has held eight separate positions in government. This includes positions such as Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Now, after Amber Rudd’s resignation, Sajid Javid has made history by becoming the first British Pakistani Home Secretary.

For many, his new position is a celebration of diversity. By holding one of the most prestigious positions in the cabinet, this marks a step forward in diversity and the inclusion of ethnic minorities.

London Correspondent for GEO News, Murtaza Ali Shah, tweeted:

“History made as British Pakistani Sajid Javid MP @SajidJavid becomes Secretary of State for the @UKHomeOffice”

As the newly-appointed Home Secretary, Javid is currently involved in sorting out the Windrush fiasco.

What is the Windrush Scandal?

The Windrush Scandal itself refers to a generation of people that travelled to the UK. They travelled from the late 1940’s to 1970 on the Empire Windrush boat. The Windrush signalled a wave of immigration that led to nearly half a million people arriving in the UK from the West Indies.

They were in search of work that the UK greatly needed after the devastation of World War II. They took up vital positions in the NHS and public transport to help rebuild the country.

Being Commonwealth citizens, they were invited legally to work in the UK. However, the Immigration Act introduced in 1971 meant that Commonwealth citizens lost their right to work in the UK legally. Critically, this does not apply to the Windrush generation who arrived before 1970.

In 2012, May introduced new immigration laws that demanded evidence of legal immigration status. However, the landing cards that recorded the Windrush generation’s arrival were destroyed in 2010.

This move happened when Theresa May was Home Secretary, consequently making it more difficult for them to prove their legality in the UK, and placing blame on May.

This left immigrants from the Caribbean with little or no evidence regarding how they had arrived in the UK despite their arrival being legal at that time. As a result, there was a backlash of people without official documentation.

These people have been threatened with deportation to countries they have never even visited. The below image shows victims of Windrush outside Parliament on the 1st May 2018.

Windrush Victims

Furthermore, some have reported being denied access to free healthcare, whilst others have lost their jobs. Having settled in the UK for decades, they paid tax and created lives for themselves. Many believe that it is unjust to deport them.

The Public Response to the Windrush Scandal

Rudd’s move to resign follows her treatment of Windrush generation immigrants. She admitted that she was unaware of illegal immigration removal targets and had “inadvertently misled” Government.

From this injustice, there are calls for both Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Prime Minister Theresa May to resign.

One Twitter user wrote:

“Theresa May looked under huge strain in her brief interview today, She’s to blame for the #Windrush scandal & should resign”

Rudd’s resignation letter admits responsibility to targets that she “should have been aware of”. Her lack of awareness caused public concern regarding her competence and has now led to her resignation.

The response from the Windrush generation seems to be one of sadness and betrayal by a country that they have lived in since they were children.

Another Twitter user said:

“They’d lived here for decades then SUDDENLY, they’re being sacked, denied healthcare, put in detention centres and deported! May is to blame for this. She needs to resign & there needs to be an inquiry.”

Labour MP David Lammy shows a similar attitude in this statement:

“My parents came here as citizens, now the #windrush generation are suffering inhumane treatment at the hands of the Home Office. If you lay down with dogs, you get fleas! This is a day of national shame: the PM and Home Sec must apologise!”

After the scandal came to light, Theresa May issued an apology on the 17th of April to Caribbean leaders at Downing Street. She said she was “genuinely sorry” for the “anxiety” that has afflicted those who are being unrightfully threatened with deportation.

Sajid Javid’s Response to the Windrush Scandal

Sajid Javid

The new Home Secretary has said that the Windrush Scandal is his “most urgent task”. He intends to treat them with “decency and fairness”. The son of Pakistani migrants, the public hope that he will attempt a new and empathetic approach to the Windrush fiasco.

Former home affairs editor of the Guardian, Alan Travis made his thoughts known on Twitter:

“New home secretary, Sajid Javid, son of a Pakistani-born bus driver, said on Sunday his own family could’ve been victims of the Windrush scandal. Let’s hope that means change will come in ‘hostile environment’ policy.”

Although May continues to face questions from the House of Commons, second-generation immigrant Javid seems set on restoring the public’s faith in the immigration system.

Speaking to MP’s as the Home Secretary, Javid said:

“I want to start by making a pledge, a pledge to those from the Windrush generation who have been in this country for decades and yet have struggled to navigate through the immigration system. This never should have been the case and I will do whatever it takes to put it right.”

Further to Javid’s vow to “put [Windrush] right” he rejects the ‘hostile environment’ label that Theresa May attached to her policies used to target illegal immigration. From this, it seems he is adopting a more empathetic approach that the public were hoping for.

Whilst there is currently no quick resolution to the worries facing the Windrush generation, a helpline has been set up. The Windrush helpline aims to get in contact with victims of the Windrush scandal. They aim to give them support and legal advice to help them stay in the country.

Suggestions of compensation and waiving of citizenship fees for those caught up in the Windrush scandal have been put forward. However, it is not yet clear how Sajid Javid will tackle the situation.

Support for the Windrush generation continues to grow. No doubt, all eyes will be on Sajid Javid and how he goes on to resolve the scandal.

Sajid Javid Uncles Accused of Exploiting Migrants

Not only does Javid have to resolve the Windrush case, he now faces further criticism. This regards the accusations against his uncles, Abdul Majeed, now deceased, and Khalid Abdul Hamid, 69.

In 2006, Majeed set up a company in Rajana, a town in Pakistan. This company, called UK Study, helped students to learn English and send them abroad by supplying them with visas.

Javid’s uncles have been accused of scamming people in Pakistan out of money in return for visas. Mr Hamid denies the claims that he scammed people, and instead views the allegations against him as ‘lies’ formulated to target his nephew, Sajid Javid.

Several people have stepped forward alleging that after handing over cash for visas, they did not receive the promised visas nor their money back.

Shahid Iqbal, 42, has also been left disgruntled at the supposed actions of Majeed and Hamid. He tells the Dailymail:

“Hamid said he had sent some people to England for work and could also send me if I gave him money. I paid him £320 but he never sent me abroad.

“He never gave me any receipt or any other document. When I realised I had lost the money, I was very angry. We are poor people.”

The Dailymail has been in touch with several people that claim they were scammed by Majeed and Hamid. They spoke to Abdul Hameed Qasir, 78, a retired schoolteacher. He claims that he was left with nothing after paying a hefty sum to receive his visa.

Abdul Hameed Qasir said:

“I was promised a visa and gave the money but I got no visa in the end and no money back. I was angry.”

Hameed Qasir is not alone in his accusations. Muktar Masih, 70, a retired farmer, claims that he paid the two men for a real visa and instead received a fake one.

Masih told the Dailymail:

“I was told I could pay the rest of the visa money once I arrived in England. I was then given some visa documents, but everybody I showed it to said the papers were fake. So I never went abroad.”

It has even been alleged that Mr Majeed could get people into Britain through arranging marriages.

Understandably, these allegations have caused an eruption of public concern. The Home Secretary has responsibilities concerning immigration and citizenship, so the allegations against Javid’s uncles are particularly concerning.

In his first Commons speech as the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid spoke about the Windrush scandal:

“when I heard that people who are outstanding pillars of their community were being impacted simply for not having the right documents to prove their legal status in the UK, I thought it could be my mum, my brother, my uncle – even me.”

Although the current allegations against Javid’s uncles may be embarrassing for the new Home Secretary, hopefully, he can focus on resolving the current dilemmas for victims of the Windrush debacle.

BAME Criticism

Whilst, on one hand, the achievements of Sajid Javid are to be applauded and celebrated for his appointment as Home Secretary symbolised by his background, there are some who feel he has ‘sold out’ to the white majority without being a staunch representative of his roots.

Tariq Mahmood, who is known as a freelance campaigner for the Labour Party, actually branded, Sajid Javid as a ‘coconut’ on social media, which is a slang phrase with a racial slur for being brown on the outside and white on the inside.

Albeit, Mahmood claimed later that he was a ‘joke’ targeting the shape of Javid’s bald head.

Most of those against the Javid’s appointment feel that he as a person does not truly represent the BAME communities and it makes no sense to celebrate his post, seeing it as no victory.

This does raise questions as to what is expected by appointments like those of Javid. This cultural crossfire can lead to choosing sides for some, those who just want to represent any community and do their best. Or those that ‘owe it to their community’ and therefore, are required support their specific needs too.

Politicians like Javid are, therefore, criticised for ‘selling out’ to the majority or ‘acting more white’ because they are in a career which is not the ‘norm’ for people of a BAME background. The feeling that they do not speak their mother tongue, have no connection with their real roots and are only in it to impress others from other backgrounds, is often vocalised by opposers.


Javid’s Plans for a ‘Compassionate’ Immigration System

Sajid Javid

After the immigration system failed individuals from the Windrush generation, Javid has now called for a “fairer, more compassionate” system. This came after the Home Secretary’s two-hour appearance at parliament’s joint human rights select committee.

Sajid heard of a list of mistakes that Home Office staff had made including detaining two Windrush victims despite the victims having lived in the UK legally for over 5o years. He added that the system was not “personal enough and not sympathetic enough” in its treatment of the Windrush citizens.

The committee had obtained a 260-page immigration file belonging to Paulette Wilson, who has lived in the UK since she was 10 years old. They explained that Wilson had been detained despite having provided Home Office staff with a plethora of information to confirm her legal status in the UK.

This included documents showing 34 years of national insurance payments, as well as plenty of evidence from her daughter and a childhood friend. All of which indicated that Wilson has spent a lifetime in the UK.

Within the file, there was a simple plea from Wilson. It stated:

“Please help me. This is my home.”

After hearing about Wilson’s case, Javid admitted:

“This says it all. She was asking for help and she didn’t get it. It was her home, obviously.”

Javid now wants Home Office staff to use their common sense and compassion to avoid such widespread failings happening again. However, the common sense that Javid wishes Home Office staff to utilise, was not permitted by the department policy.

Glyn Williams, the Home Office’s director general for immigration policy, added that Home Office staff accepting national insurance payments as evidence for legal UK status would have been abnormal.

Despite this, Williams admitted that:

“We should have engaged more proactively and more sympathetically with her”

The committee also possessed the file of Anthony Bryan. In a similar manner to Wilson, Bryan had lived in the UK since he was a child. He had worked here and paid taxes for the whole of his adult life.

Despite providing the Home Office with a lifetime’s worth of evidence, Bryan was detained. He was held in immigration detention centres for five weeks.

Javid did not comment on whether he thought the failings were systematic. However, he did state that the cases were “appalling” and “wrong in so many ways.”

The Home Secretary also conceded that certain individuals had “been asked for proof they couldn’t possibly provide.”

It’s encouraging to see that Javid is acknowledging the current faults of the immigration system. However, his target of a ‘fairer, more compassionate’ system may mean having to address departmental policy first.

To tackle the current issues of any Windrush citizens wrongly detained, Javid has employed 140 officials as part of the Windrush taskforce to help them.

The challenges for Sajid Javid as Home Secretary of the UK will no doubt continue since this role was never going to be a quiet mundane bench job. With so many changes ahead in terms of Brexit and other government policies, he will need to prove his mettle, even as a second generation immigrant.

Ellie is an English literature and Philosophy graduate who enjoys writing, reading and exploring new places. She is a Netflix-enthusiast who also has a passion for social and political issues. Her motto is: “Enjoy life, never take anything for granted.”

Images courtesy of Reuters, and PA

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