Anti-Refugee Nationality and Borders Bill

A united, Black-led movement to defeat racism

Why we Oppose the Anti-Refugee Nationality and Borders Bill

January 14 2022

The Liberation Movement (TLM) joins many other civil liberties organisations in opposing the government’s anti-refugee Nationality and Borders Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords. Peers have their final sitting to consider the bill later this month.

TLM welcomes efforts by the House of Lords to remove the particularly draconian clause nine of the bill, which would enable officials to unilaterally remove citizenship from British citizens. We note the proposals have been universally condemned by human rights campaigners, including eminent lawyers.

TLM’s Cllr Hassan Ahmed said: “We call on all lawmakers to reject the bill in its entirety because of its threat to hard won civil liberties, particularly those of Britain’s African, Asian, Caribbean and other people of colour. Shamefully, the proposed new law particularly targets refugees and asylum seekers.”

Even if the bill is passed by parliament, TLM believes direction action in solidarity with asylum seekers and refugees, which has already happened in Britain, would send a clear signal that fair minded will not accept another piece of racist legislation. The Labour frontbench must confirm that, at the first opportunity in government, they will repeal this pernicious legislation.

TLM’s Deborah Hobson said: “We believe the bill is being driven by racist and anti-working class bigots in parliament, along with far-right nationalists in society who see the “threat” of small boats with desperate asylum seekers on-board in the English Channel as being somehow a threat to the British way of life. Such people, who are fleeing Western-sponsored wars in their country, pose no such threat, of course. Such perilous crossings take place due to the refusal of the UK Government to allow safe routes for asylum seekers and refugees.”

Cllr Ahmed said: “The UK has a history of racist immigration and nationality legislation stemming from its imperialist actions, which, throughout history, have sought to demonise people of colour and others, including Jewish refugees in the early 1900s.”

He added: “Laws have been used for many decades, by both of the main political parties, to restrict immigration and have largely impacted on African, Asian, Caribbean peoples.”

Hobson said: “In 1968, Labour prime minster Harold Wilson brought in an anti-East African Asian immigration act that effectively revoked their British citizenship and made thousands of them stateless.”

She went on: “A law brought in 1971 by Conservative prime minister Edward Heath restricted primary immigration and this also targeted Black people.”

The infamous “hostile environment” that ushered in the Windrush scandal of 2018, affecting Caribbean people settled for years in Britain that was their home, was brought in by Tory home secretary Theresa May two years earlier. It introduced new sanctions on so-called “illegal working”, accessing services and made it much easier to cruelly deport such people.

TLM says all racist immigration legislation must be abolished and replaced with a system based on international solidarity and human rights. They must be laws that are consistent with the UK’s international obligations.

Cllr Ahmed said: “Racist legislation undermines people of colour as they become liable for additional questioning and gives a green light to the racists in our society. This is why TLM also opposes the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The framers of this legislation have had to concede that people of colour, like Black Lives Matter protesters, will be targeted if it is passed.”

Hobson stated: “To oppose such legislation requires all of us to challenge racist practices – lawmakers, councils, business leaders and trade unions. But this is not enough. Britain’s education system and cultural institutions must be decolonised. Slavery and colonialism must be explained truthfully and reparations made by the government to their historical survivors. Trade unions and the TUC must act on recommendations made to them by people of colour and their allies in order for the labour movement to be genuinely anti-racist.”

TLM opposes imperialism, colonialism and racism, past present and future. We call on the government to close its immigration detention centres and stand for solidarity and the unity of all working people, whatever the colour of their skin.