British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has apologised to thousands of British residents who arrived from the Caribbean decades ago and are now being denied basic rights after being incorrectly identified as illegal immigrants.

More than 140 members of parliament signed a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May calling on her to resolve an anomaly that means many people who arrived in Britain as children between 1948 and 1971 are being denied health services, prevented from working and in some cases threatened with deportation.

"I do not want of any of the Commonwealth citizens who are here legally to be impacted in the way they have and, frankly, some of the way they have been treated has been wrong, has been appalling, and I am sorry," Ms Rudd told parliament.

"That is why I setting up a new area in my department to ensure that we have completely new approach to how their situation is regularised."

'Windrush generation' row a very personal one for Theresa May

The letter to Mrs May was co-ordinated by David Lammy, chairman of the Race and Community All Party Parliamentary Group, and has the backing of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and some Conservative MPs.

The letter calls for action over the immigration anomalies, stating: "All too often these routine bureaucratic errors bring about the separation of families and irreparable damage to lives in addition to undue stress, anxiety and suffering.

"The impact has been felt in the cases of individuals losing the right to work, to rent property, to receive pensions, to access their bank accounts or even to access vital healthcare - a particularly cruel twist of fate as so many of those affected have spent their lives in the service of our National Health Service."

Mr Lammy said: "What is going on is grotesque, immoral and inhumane. It is a stain on our nation's conscience and the Prime Minister must act urgently to right this historic wrong.

"After World War II we invited the Windrush generation over as citizens to help rebuild our country, and now their children are being treated like criminals.

"The government is essentially stripping people of the rights that our government itself granted decades ago.

"The government must immediately guarantee that anyone who comes forward to clarify their status should not face deportation or detention, because as things stand today there are thousands of people who are too worried about their future to come forward."

Theresa May to meet Caribbean leaders

Mrs May is to meet counterparts from Caribbean states this week to discuss problems faced by long-term British residents from the so-called Windrush generation over their immigration status.

Mrs May's official spokesman said the PM was clear that nobody with a right to be in the UK would be made to leave.

Reports suggested that Mrs May had rejected a request from 12 Caribbean leaders to discuss the issue.

But Downing Street said that she only became aware of the request this morning and hoped to meet as many of them as possible this week, while they are in London for the Commonwealth summit.

Mrs May's official spokesman said: "She deeply values the contribution made by these and all Commonwealth citizens who have made a life in the UK, and is making sure the Home Office is offering the correct solution for individual situations.

"She is aware that many people are unlikely to have documents that are over 40 years old and she is clear that no-one with the right to be here will be made to leave."

The spokesman said the Home Office was expected to set out measures to support members of the Windrush generation in providing the documentation necessary to prove their right to live in the UK.