“The racist motivation behind the Bill was driven home further by the Home Office’s insistence on not only targeting those trying to reach Britain, but BAME people currently here.”
By Imran Hussain MP.
On Wednesday the government passed the deeply divisive Nationality and Borders Bill, which expands on the Home Office strategy to create a “hostile environment” for those they consider undesirable and unwelcome.
They claim this was done in the name of fighting people smuggling gangs and stress the importance of tackling modern day slavery – but in truth, the Bill does neither.
It’s outrageous that such an assertion has been attached to legislation which criminalises those seeking asylum. Far from stopping gangs, it will push more desperate people into their arms.
Rather than offsetting such a draconian provision with the creation of safe routes for refugees, it further endangers their lives with plans to outlaw the vital work of the RNLI, if they were to carry on saving lives indiscriminately.
And just as they are making life harder for refugees, the government will discriminate against victims of modern-day slavery that are coerced into committing crimes. Reducing the likelihood of victims coming forward and meaning fewer are entitled to support.
The Home Office is hurting the people they’re claiming to support and the very people who need our help the most.
The racist motivation behind the Bill was driven home further by the Home Office’s insistence on not only targeting those trying to reach Britain, but BAME people currently here. Despite numerous amendments offered from both sides of the house, attempting to soften the blow of the government’s strategy, they were met with accusations of scaremongering and wilful ignorance.
My colleague Bell Ribeiro-Addy proposed one such amendment, which would have scrapped charges for citizenship. At present lower income families are priced out of applying due to child citizenship fees of over one thousand pounds, with the Home Office making a 60% profit on such applications.
The Tories disregard for citizenship rights was illustrated again within Clause 9 of their bill. Which builds on existing powers to endow the Home Office with the authority to withhold notice of citizenship being withdrawn, which in effect denies an impacted person the right to appeal. Just as with the authoritarian restrictions on the right to protest, the grounds for not informing somebody of their citizenship being withheld are deliberately vague and open to cynical interpretation.
Harold Wilson said that “the Labour Party is a moral crusade, or it is nothing” and I have been encouraged by the response across the labour movement in opposing this bill. Democracy doesn’t finish at the doors to parliament, and I hope the fight against the Home Office spreads across our movement and wider society as its creeping authoritarianism ensues.
- Imran Hussain is the MP for Bradford East, you can follow him on twitter here and on Facebook here.