the eruption of the Windrush scandal, as it has become known, has sparked a fierce national debate over immigration and the status of those who arrived from the Caribbean before 1973.
The government has now issued an apology over its treatment of the 'Windrush generation' , who are being ordered to prove they have the right to stay in Britain - even though they have been here over 50 years.
Like EU citizens who live in Britain now, Windrush migrants have permission to stay under UK rules.
But they have been told that they have to prove they are eligible to stay - despite it emerging that landing cards recording their arrival dates were destroyed in 2010, months after Theresa May became Home Secretary.
But who exactly are the Windrush generation, where did they get there name and why is the current Windrush scandal so significant for modern Britain?
The Empire Windrush was originally a German passenger liner launched in the 19230s and named MV Monte Rosa.
She was used by Germany as a troop ship during the Second World War and The British took possession of her in as a prize of war after the conflict ended, renaming her the Empire Windrush in 1947.
The Windrush arrives in Tilbury dock on June 21, 1948. Do you know any of the people in this picture? If so get in touch at email@example.com
The reason that the name of the Windrush became synonymous with the wave of migration that began in the late 40s and early 50s is down to the fact that the ship happened to be picking up servicemen on leave in Jamaica in 1948, just after the British Nationality Act 1948 had been passed.
This gave citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies statues to everyone who was a British subject who was connected with the UK or a British colony.
The ship was going to be sailing fairly empty from Jamaica’s capital Kingston, so an advert was put out asking for anyone who wanted to take advantage of cheap passage to come and work in England.
The invite was put out as England faced huge labour shortages in the wake of the war and was desperate for help to rebuild shattered infrastructure and get public services running again.
492 people took up the offer and headed to the UK. This began a wave of immigration from the Caribbean and, according to the National Archives , between 1948 and 1970 nearly half a million people left their homes in the West Indies to live in Britain.
This generation became known as the 'Windrush generation' after the ship that sparked the influx.
Even before the Windrush arrived at Tilbury dock in June 1948, intense national debate had struck up over whether to welcome the new arrivals.
According to understandingslavery.com Sam England, a former RAF officer who was onboard the ship, said: “As soon as we got to England there was great apprehension on the boat because we knew there was a national debate in Britain as to whether the boat would be allowed to dock.”'
When those first passengers disembarked the Windrush they were housed in the Clapham South deep shelter , a cavernous and dank tunnel dug as a bomb shelter in the war.
Many of them settled in nearby Brixton, as it was the site of the nearest labour exchange - as job centres were then known.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has faced calls to quit over the treatment of the 'Windrush generation' (Image: Internet Unknown)
Although Caribbeans were encouraged by British Government campaigns to come over to England, and many found work with the NHS , British Rail and public transport, the new migrants were met with a wave of prejudice and sometimes outright hostility.
Back in the Caribbean these men and women had been taught that they were English too, so many were shocked at the negative treatment they received from the white population when they arrived.
Many had trouble finding accommodation and were not able to open a bank account or get a mortgage, and as such West Indians were were forced to establish their own organisations - such as the West Indian Standing Conference - which championed their interests in the community.
After the war there was a housing shortage in the UK and this led to the first clashes between the incomers and the white population. These clashes were often violent and led to riots in the 1950s in London, Birmingham and Nottingham.
The most famous of these were the 1958 Notting Hill riots, when two weeks of violence plagued the area in London. In response to the riots a 'Caribbean carnival' was set up in 1959, which is still going strong as the Notting Hill Carnival .
Theresa May in a meeting with leaders and representatives of Caribbean countries this week as she faces criticism over treatment of the Windrush generation (Image: Getty Images Europe)
Anyone who arrived in the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973 has a legal right to stay in this country, unless they left the UK for more than two years.
But new immigration rules, that came into force when now-PM Theresa May was Home Secretary, require employers, landlords and the NHS to demand evidence of legal immigration status.
Back in 2012, Mrs May said the measures were designed to create a "hostile environment" for people who were in the UK illegally.
But caught up in the bureaucratic nightmare that may have led to some Caribbean immigrants being deported "in error".
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes has admitted that some Windrush migrants may have been deported back to the Caribbean, telling Channel 4 News: "Potentially they have been. And I’m very conscious that it’s very much in error and that’s an error I want to put right."
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has finally quit after apologising for the "appalling" treatment of the migrants amid increasing claims she misled Parliament.
Now a leading figure in Brussels has warned that the scandal is threatening a "bureaucratic nightmare" for 3million EU citizens in Britain.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator, has warned that the paperwork chaos could have massive implications for EU citizens and announced he will hold an urgent meeting with Home Office officials next Tuesday.
He told MEPs: "After the Windrush scandal in Britain we want to be sure the same is not happening to our European citizens, and that there is no bureaucratic nightmare.
The government has now confirmed that 49 active cases have been flagged up so far on the first day of a new hotline set up for victims of the scandal, who face being deported, which could be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to those affected by the scandal.
In one heartbreaking case a man who arrived in Britain in 1958 aged 15 months has told how he was barred from attending his mum's funeral in the UK .
An application Junior Green submitted to prove he had lived in the UK was rejected - and after he travelled to Jamaica to be with his dying mother last year, he says he was not allowed on the return flight to the UK.
His mother's body was repatriated to Britain, but by the time he got back her funeral had already happened.