Citizens and activists protests against approval of Clause 9

Image Credit: Huffpost

A new change to the UK nationality bill will allow nationality to be removed from its citizens without giving them notice has angered politicians, citizens and activists who believe it specifically targets ethnic minority groups and puts them in danger.

The Houses of Commons pass the Nationality and Borders bill which is causing huge controversy amongst many community groups who fear it may specially affect ethnic minorities. It is the first time such power has been granted, in the past nationality could be removed but notice would have to be given to the person, this change means that is no longer required. It is Clause 9 of the bill which is causing the most concern as it states that a person’s citizenship can be removed without having to notify them if they cannot contact the person, or if it is seen “reasonably practical” to do so. They would also have no right to appeal. The media has reported that this now means that up to six million people, the number of minority groups who reside in the UK are now at potential risk of being deported under this new bill if they commit a crime.

It is a practice that had only been used in rare occasions up until 2017 when the numbers of people who have had their citizenship removed has dramatically increased. Historically, citizenship was only stripped only from criminals in the public eye such as Shamima Begum, who was British Bengali but left to join ISIL (ISIS) in Syria as a teenager. Even this case was highly debated as it was argued that she had been groomed as a child. More recently the practice of citizenship stripping has been applied to everyday citizens predominantly of ethnic minority backgrounds which raises concerns that certain minority groups may become second class citizens of they hold another passport.

Many ethnic minorities who have dual passports keep their non-British passports in fear of being removed from the UK, this fear has now become even more real. Home secretary Priti Patel who is in full support of the new bill is “delighted” with its approval.

Many people took to Twitter to voice their concerns on the bill with tweets like this from author Ian Dunt, “the bill is obscene: cruel, pointless, illiterate, racist, constitutionally unsound and against the principle of retrospective law-making. No sane democratic society would have passed it. And yet they have.”

There has been a lot of resistance against the bill and Clause 9 from the community, with petitions collecting over 100,000 signatures. Any petition with a high number of signatures at that level should potentially be debated in Parliament according to government guidelines, but that may not be the case for this bill.

Activist Sam Asumadu called for solidarity against the bill, “black, brown, different faith, and white allies — must join forces to oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill. There’s no time to lose. We are a 40% ethnic ‘minority’ in London. We’re due to become the ‘majority’ soon. The Tories will not let that happen. We are in peril.”

The bill also contains a clause which effectively criminalized anyone participating in refugee rescue missions in the English Channel that has also fueled anger.

Faizah Haider

Faizah Haider, MSc, is King’s College, University of London graduate and
is an emerging author. She covers daily news from the UK and across the world. Her work appeared in many news websites.