The Nationality and Borders Bill continues to move through Parliament. Since the announcement nearly a year ago of the “New Plan for Immigration”, which would become the Bill, we have written about the many issues that it will cause for the people we support in the North West. Recently we have spoken up to support the campaign to #SayNoToClause9, led by IMIX and others. Clause 9 is one clause amongst many in the Bill which attacks people’s rights and freedoms. Here is GMIAU’s Senior Policy Officer Amanda:

What is Clause 9?

Clause 9 will make it possible for the Home Secretary to deprive people of citizenship without notifying them. It’s important to be aware of the powers the government already has in this area. Powers to deprive citizenship have existed for decades and have been ramped up in legislation over the last 20 years. Hundreds of people were stripped of their citizenship during the ‘war on terror’; having their identity and rights denied them, often in the only place they have ever called home. It has been described as “worse than torture”. Empowering the government to subject people to it without notice is yet another sinister development that will make it harder for people to appeal and fight wrongful citizenship deprivation.

Who is impacted?

In 2014, the law was amended so that people who were born with British citizenship can be deprived of it, not just people who have been “naturalised” as British. But the government is not allowed under international law to make people stateless. In practice the power only applies to people with either dual citizenship or the possibility (according to the Home Office) of acquiring citizenship of another country. In other words, it turns people with heritage in countries outside the UK into second-class citizens. The #SayNoToClause9 campaign is about making clear the wide ranging implications of this. It’s estimated it may apply to six million British citizens.

In the video above, IMIX’s Julia Rampen explains that while she is one of those who this law applies to, as a white Canadian she is unlikely to be impacted by it. Like most Hostile Environment policies, Black and brown people and those who are marginalised in other ways – due to religion, poverty and other factors – are most likely to be affected and wrongfully deprived of their citizenship. It’s a racist and alienating law. Below, Mariam Kemple Hardy of Refugee Action describes the psychological impact of being made to feel like you don’t belong in the place you call home.

Fighting the Bill

The broad demographics to whom Clause 9 could apply mean it has received a lot of media coverage. We hope that the #SayNoToClause9 campaign will bring attention to the many other cruel and dehumanising aspects of the Bill. It is important to understand that the Bill as a whole attacks the right to seek safety in the UK. That’s why we have referred to it as the #AntiRefugeeBill. Proposals such as ones to criminalise people and deny them rights and support based on their method of travel to the UK; to make it harder to prove their need for asylum; for recognised refugees to secure permanent status; and to house people in offshore camps, will cause misery. Like citizenship, the right to seek asylum is also a right, not a privilege and not conditional based on how you get to the UK. People seeking asylum are a population whose voices too often go unheard. We hope that by raising our voices in solidarity we can fight the Bill together.

For more information about how we anticipate the Bill will impact people in the North West, please see our briefing.