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19 Government defeats on Nationality and Borders Bill

The Lords have made numerous big amendments to the government’s approach to asylum, refugees and citizenship. These are changes that our Green Party Peers have been talking about for a while, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought it home to many more people how awful this government’s approach is. This is a real opportunity to challenge the xenophobic policies that the government want to cement into law.

Please lobby your MPs, raise the issue of Ukraine and ask them to support the more humanitarian approach taken by the Lords.
 

These are the key amendments to NB Bill that the Lords have passed but the Commons might reject:
  • Asylum for genocide victims - to ensure a person who is part of a group at risk of genocide must be presumed to meet conditions for being granted asylum in UK
  • Reuniting families - peers voted for a clause which will help unaccompanied child refugees reunite with their family members in the UK. The Lord Dubs amendment to the Nationality and Borders Bill will give safe passage to all unaccompanied minors from European countries. 
  • No offshoring refugees – peers deleted the Home Office power to deflect asylum-seekers off to other countries rather than process their claims in the UK. The government wants to make asylum claims inadmissible in the UK - when they believe someone could have/should have claimed asylum elsewhere. Peers ensured that the Bill's clause 15 on inadmissible asylum claims can only come into force when safe returns agreements with third countries are in place and that people with outstanding asylum claims to be removed from the UK.
  • No criminalisation of asylum seekers - Lords voted to remove the parts of clause 39 that would make it a criminal offence for a person to arrive in the UK without a valid entry clearance to seek asylum.
  • No two tier system - the Lords voted to remove clause 11 from the Bill. The clause would effectively create a two-tier asylum system of legal and illegal asylum seekers, based on whether they arrived in the UK with or without official entry clearance.
  • Giving safety to unaccompanied children
  • Resettle 10k refugees a year
  • Rescue people at sea - to ensure that maritime enforcement powers must not endanger life at sea. The amendment specifies that the powers of immigration officers and enforcement officers can only be used when they do not endanger life at sea.
  • No criminalisation of people helping asylum seekers if no gain
  • Restoring citizens rights for the Chagos Islanders
  • Saying no to instant expulsion of people with dual citizenship - the controversial clause 9 was removed from the Bill by 209.  Clause 9 would allow the Home Secretary to remove a person's British citizenship without notice or right of appeal in this country – if that person is one of the many millions who has dual citizenship. Natalie withdrew her more radical amendment that would have completely abolished the whole two tier system of citizenship upon which the government’s proposals are based.
  • Refugee convention enacted - Lords voted for adding a new clause to the Bill to ensure that it is enacted in ways that comply with the UK's obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.
  • Right to work - Lords give people the right to work if they have been waiting for 6 months or more for a decision.
  • Allow late disclosure of evidence
  • More emphasis in age assessments on believing the child
  • Right to remain and financial support for victims of child slavery
  • Local journeys from Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland without need for Electronic Travel Authorisation

Key arguments when lobbying on NBB

There are many NGOs and campaign groups who provide valuable support for refugees and are good sources of information.
Also, Jenny and Natalie have both written articles or presented speeches which you could use when writing to MPs.

Here are a few arguments you could use when writing:

 

  • Government plans for two tier citizenship would leave 6 million Britons who hold duel nationality with the threat of Priti Patel being able to take away their citizenship, without appeal in this country. We believe that citizenship should be for life, and not at the government's pleasure. It would turn about 6 million people into second-class citizens.
 
  • The difficulty that Ukranian refugees are having accessing the proper channels shows that dividing refugees into legals and illegals is a false distinction. The two tier refugee system is designed to give the illusion of there being a "proper way" of being a refugee, but this will inflict huge suffering and injustice on desperate people as the UK government restricts access through either deliberate policy or incompetence. 
 
  • Since the UK left the EU, no child refugee in France supported by safe passage has been able to reunite safely with their family here in the UK, turning instead to treacherous journeys across the Channel.
 
  • It is almost two years since Boris Johnson claimed to be surprised that No Recourse to Public Funds even existed, and put people at risk of destitution by being completely unable to receive any support from the State. He promised to review the policy, and in typical Boris Johnson fashion, he did nothing. The Lords amendment takes action to give people help when they need it.
 
  • Banning people from working is just one of the many ways that the government punishes and dehumanises asylum seekers. The government justifies this as "reducing the pull factors to the UK". Frankly, it's just horrible that the government wants to leave asylum seekers destitute so that they will either go somewhere else or risk persecution in their home country. 
 
  • The government proposal tries to remove asylum seekers to other countries while they process the claims. Instead of trying to deport people while the government dithers on processing their claims, we should be providing them with decent accommodation and a livelihood, and processing their applications with haste.
 
  • 10,000 refugees a year. Global Britain” has obligations, as well as opportunities. Central to those obligations is the need to provide refuge and sanctuary for people fleeing war and persecution. The government should be providing resources to local authorities to help settle refugees in their areas. Local authorities have been cut to the bone by Tory austerity, so they are really struggling to pool together the funds to be able to support refugees in the way that they want to.
 
  • Government proposals will make it harder for victims of slavery to be rescued and protected. These people have possibly been groomed, tricked or kidnapped and brought to the UK. Instead of demonstrating even an ounce of compassion, the government is treating all of these victims as if they have done something wrong.
 
  • Late disclosure should not be an issue, as evidence is evidence whenever it is uncovered. Asylum seekers are likely to be traumatised and find it difficult to provide the evidence they need to support their claim. 
 
  • People who have been re-enslaved or re-trafficked will not be able to get help under the government proposals. Also, if people have committed a criminal offence because they have been forced to do so by their slavers, then that must not interfere with them getting help to escape their enslavement. 

The Government continue to pass laws without  scrutiny by Parliament through the use of Secondary Instruments such as this amendment to the Environmental Protection Act which will open the door to the large scale growing of GMOs in the UK. Natalie has organised a challenge to this with a fatal motion to be debated on Monday 14th March.


 
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