Mass protest planned against Nationality and Borders Bill outside Downing Street

The protest will take place on Sunday at 1pm outside Downing Street

Priti Patel

A mass protest has been organised against the Nationality and Borders Bill which would see two in five people in England and Wales from an ethnic minority background become eligible to be deprived of their citizen status without warning.

Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill, which has been quietly added on, would exempt the government from having to give notice to deprive someone of their citizenship if it is not “reasonably practicable” to do so, or in the interests of national security, diplomatic relations or otherwise in the public interest.

The powers contained within it are incredibly broad. The home secretary can revoke British citizenship when it would be “conducive to the public good”. The new provision could also be applied retrospectively to people deprived of citizenship before it became law.

Human rights groups have called the measures draconian and dangerous, which is exactly what they are. The law will particularly affect those from ethnic minority backgrounds and Muslims.

The protest will take place outside Downing Street, on Sunday at 1pm. It will feature groups such as Media Diversified, South Asian solidarity group, The Association of Muslim Lawyers, Windrush lives and Stand up to racism, Sikh Council UK, Birmingham Trade Union Council and Palestine Forum of Britain.

Marcus Daniel, Editor in Chief Media Diversified, told LFF: “The Nationality and Borders Bill is the latest in a long line of escalating border violence against the UK’s people of colour who will disproportionately be affected by clause 9 which gives the Home Office powers to strip citizenship without notice if they believe the individual can apply for citizenship elsewhere, typically by descent from another country. It is important to note that this is not restricted to dual nationals only.

“Concerns about the Shamina Begum case have been well founded as Priti Patel aims to increase her powers to use citizenship as a tool of punishment, describing British citizenship as a “privilege not a right” which is in stark contrast to the view of the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres who states it is quite the reverse.

“With many affected by the Windrush scandal still facing the further trauma of fighting for compensation it appears the government still needs to urgently rethink their attitude towards using citizenship revocation as a tool of punishment as in effect it creates a two-tier citizenship – with those of us with roots abroad particularly at risk. The wording is already deliberately vague as to when the power should be used, and there seems to be only one way these particular powers are going and that is for them to be increased.”

The Muslim Association of Britain’s Raghad Altikriti said: “This bill is a racist bill and we are demonstrating on Sunday because we refuse to be turned into second class citizens without a fight. This demonstration is just the beginning.”

Rudy Schulkind, Research and Policy Co-ordinator at Bail for Immigration Detainees described the Nationality and Borders Bill as “an inhumane piece of legislation that will criminalise refugee and erode the meagre rights of those subject to immigration control.”

Rudy said: “The bill will decimate the UK’s asylum system and marks a transition from the hostile environment to full-blown social segregation. It punishes the most vulnerable, will lead to more people being locked in immigration detention centres for longer, and puts government decisions beyond the reach of challenge.

“We’re calling on everyone who believes in an immigration system based on principles of justice, compassion and dignity to join us in resisting it.”

The South Asian Solidarity Group added: “The Home Office is effectively collaborating with other governments to make people stateless. We must see this bill in the context of the widespread disenfranchisement of minorities and clampdown on protest by far-right and authoritarian governments globally, as a global attack on activists and marginalised people.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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