Thousands of people have signed a petition to stop the home secretary from being allowed to strip British citizenship.
The Good Law Project petition already racked up more than 15,000 signatures, arguing Priti Patel’s new powers “embed racism” in British law.
The petition highlights citizenship “must be a right, not a privilege” and urges the government to scrap the Home Secretary’s ability to remove citizenship from people.
‘Seriously worrying powers’
It reads: “Section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981 gives the Home Secretary some seriously worrying powers. These include the right to strip someone of their UK citizenship if she thinks it ‘conducive to the public good’.
“And allowing her to remove a naturalised citizen’s citizenship as long as she has “reasonable grounds” for believing the person has a right to citizenship of another country. This could render them stateless – and for some has.”
GLP expressed concerns that phrasing such as ‘conducive to the public good’ gives the government ‘huge’ discretion in how they interpret the law when taking away people’s rights.
The group offered the example of Osime Brown, the 22-year-old autistic man whose deportation to Jamaica was authorised by Patel despite having not been there since he was four and not having any family or friends to help there. The decision was overturned after a heated public campaign, but the law charity said campaigns “don’t do the job.”
No need to give notice when taking people’s rights away – without appeal?
The new Bill also scraps the need to give notice when removing British citizenship and raises serious questions about the ability to appeal such government decisions.
It is also making EU citizens in the UK anxious, many more of whom have been spending thousands of pounds on citizenship applications to feel more secure about their lives in Britain after post-Brexit decisions made by the government.
Campaign group Best for Britain labelled the new Bill as “utterly draconian”, while writer Frances Meta Coppola said it targets “specifically dual nationals, most of whom are from ethnic minority backgrounds.” “This amendment is explicitly racist,” Coppola added.
“We must address the underlying law,” GLP said in the petition, adding: “Citizenship deprivation orders disproportionately affect people of colour, people with dual citizenship and groups that are already marginalised.
‘Different classes’ of British citizens
“The existence of Section 40 creates different classes of citizenship – white indigenous citizens have rights and freedoms that other citizens do not.
“No civilised country should embed racism in its legal system. ‘Citizenship’ has no meaning if it discriminates against people of colour and naturalised citizens.”
The petition can be found here.
Meanwhile, a protest is set to take place this weekend against the Nationality and Borders Bill.
The gathering will take place on Saturday 15 January, outside the Home Office on 2 Marsham Street, London, from 1pm.
Speakers will include Labour MPs John McDonnell and Marsha de Cordova and campaign group BAME Lawyers 4 Justice.