Nayah Kelly, LLB
“The UK parliament has commenced the finalisation of its legal assault against refugees and immigrants.”
The UK parliament has commenced the finalisation of its legal assault against refugees and immigrants. Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which was passed in the House of Commons in December 2021, aims to restrict illegal entry to the UK and remove ‘those who have no right to be in Britain’. Although these aims seem rooted in nationalist nobility, the methods are unnecessarily hostile and archaic in their portrayal of immigrants.
The Bill wishes to criminalise those entering the UK without permission and increase the sentence from 6 months to 4 years imprisonment. This further perpetuates a narrative of unlawful convicts being associated with immigration.
This harsh increase portrays a sense of ‘othering’ that the UK has historically imposed on those born elsewhere. It creates a non-empathetic and antagonistic view of Great Britain in an attempt to reduce pull factors for immigrants.
Problematic delegated powers surround the entirety of the bill; it gives power to the executive to define who is a victim of modern slavery. Under the new legislation, victims who miss the deadline for admitting information about what happened to them are seen as less credible and in turn, can be refused help. Parliament shows its acknowledgement of the hardship many immigrants face and yet responds with opposition and scepticism.
Despite the harshness of these protocols, they can be justified with a sense of unwavering sense of national protectionism. However, clause 9 of the bill wishes to legalise the revoking of British citizenship. The clause seeks to do this without giving notice to those being deported.
The government justified this drastic inequity by stating the clause will only be used for the betterment of ‘public interest.’ Parliament uses vague terminology that allows the termination of a person’s stay in the United Kingdom to fall solely to the whim of those in power.
Much like the Shamima Begum case, unsympathetic judgments change the course of vulnerable lives. Here, a major issue arises with the dominance parliament wishes to have over its citizens. Parliamentary sovereignty seems to have escaped the confinements of democracy and many people have taken to petitioning against the clause.
By installing this law into our government, we strip people of the ability to personally appeal their wrongful termination and make living as an ethnic minority in the UK that much more unbearable. The bill is said to affect up to six million citizens, predominantly from ethnic minorities with dual nationalities. It proves what those of ethnic communities have always known ‘citizenship is a privilege, not a right’ found in clause 60 of the bill.
Despite the great social changes being made within society, parliament fails to reflect a progressive mindset and continues with the ‘ship em’ out’ philosophy delivered to the Windrush generation. Shouldn’t a true democracy translate the tolerant views of its people? Perhaps this is an indication of the improvements that need to be made in society.
The bill inadvertently treats those not born in Britain as lesser than, unprotected and ultimately disposable. It is now being debated in the House of Lords after being discussed for only 9 minutes in the House of Commons. Parliament will only consider petitions that get more than 110,000 signatures for another debate.
The bill has received nearly triple that in a petition for its review. Whatever parliament does next will be influenced by the nation rallying against the bill.
Paying attention to national news is imperative to the shaping of our democracy.
If this article has moved you to sign up for the petition to stop the Nationality and Borders Bill, search petition.parliament.uk!
Photo Caption: Protestors oppose the proposed ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’ (Credit: middleeasteye.net)