UK immigration bill threatens citizenship rights of millions of ethnic minority Britons
A bill to radically reform the UK’s immigration system is currently before the country’s parliament. The bill contains a clause that could lead to severe deprivation of citizenship rights for ethnic minority Britons.
The Nationality and Borders Bill was introduced by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is responsible for immigration to the UK. Commonly referred to as the “anti-refugee” bill, it has sparked considerable controversy among immigration lawyers, experts and activists for its sweeping changes to immigration rules, many of which would make the application process illegal. asylum in the UK considerably more difficult and dangerous.
Less well known than the asylum part of the bill, however, is a clause that would give the Home Office greater powers to strip Britons of their citizenship, without warning or notice. The Home Office already has the power to revoke citizenship, for various reasons, and has done so hundreds of times over the past few decades.
Perhaps the best known of these are the cases of UK-born Shamima Begum and Jack Letts. Both were stripped of their British nationality after traveling to Syria, allegedly to join Islamic State. UK law, as well as several international human rights conventions, prohibits rendering someone stateless. This was not a problem in Letts’ case, as he already possessed Canadian citizenship through his father and therefore would not become stateless by losing his British citizenship.
Begum’s case, however, was more complicated. Born in the UK to Bangladeshi parents, Begum had only British nationality. Nevertheless, the British government argued that she could obtain Bangladeshi citizenship through her parents, despite Bangladesh’s claim that she did not have Bangladeshi citizenship, would be denied it if she applied. request and would be refused entry into the country.
Indeed, Begum was susceptible to becoming stateless simply because she had an identifiable minority ethnic background. This episode revealed that people born to first, second or even third generation immigrants do not enjoy the same security of citizenship as those with older roots in the country. Such a situation essentially creates two classes of citizenship. People from ethnic minorities may be stripped of their citizenship under the auspices of possibly being eligible for citizenship elsewhere, while the citizenship rights of white ethnic Britons remain unaffected.
Article 9 of the new Nationality and Borders Bill aggravates this situation by making the process opaque to those affected. This would give the government the right to strip Britons of their citizenship without notice. This means that a person can become stateless without even knowing it and miss the opportunity to appeal their deprivation.
There are around six million ethnic minority people in the UK who could, if the Nationality and Borders Bill becomes law, become stateless without them even knowing it.
“I received my UK citizenship last summer, after almost 14 years as an asylum seeker and refugee,” a prominent refugee advocate wrote on Twitter. “But now due to the (Bill of Nationality and Borders) I’m not safe, the Home Secretary can revoke it and withdraw it at his discretion.”
A plethora of legal experts, NGOs, activists and campaign groups have urged the government to drop Article 9. They argue that without notice or knowledge that they have to appeal a deprivation of citizenship, millions of ethnic minority Britons could become stateless under the bogus claim. that they may be eligible for another citizenship elsewhere.
“(Section 9) is very damaging legislation which I hope will be phased out as the bill goes through its various stages,” said Alf Dubs, a member of the Kingdom’s House of Lords. United and former child refugee. speaking with IMIX. “We cannot allow people to become stateless. Citizenship is certainly our right and not a privilege, and it is something that we must defend very strongly.
An official petition on the government’s website to remove the clause has received more than 300,000 signatures, well above the threshold the government is obligated to respond to. The response, however, was firm.
“This clause is (…) necessary to avoid the situation where we could never deprive a person of their British citizenship simply because it is not possible, or not possible, to communicate with them”, reads one. in the response of the Ministry of the Interior. “Preserving the ability to make decisions in this way is vitally important to preserving the integrity of the UK immigration system and to protecting the security of the UK from those who would harm us.”
The Home Office says Term 9 will not affect a person’s right to appeal their deprivation of citizenship. There is, however, an inherent contradiction in this assertion, aptly summed up by international refugee law scholar Dan Sohege:
“How exactly can someone appeal the withdrawal of their citizenship if they don’t know that their citizenship has been taken away?”