British protesters have rallied in Westminster to protest against the Nationality and Borders Bill, calling for the “racist” legislation to be scrapped.
Several organizations, including Migrants Organize, Media Diversified, and Sikh Council UK, demonstrated alongside members of the public outside the Palace of Westminster against the bill on Thursday, calling it a “tool to divide.”
The new bill, presented to the parliament by Home Secretary Priti Patel, will allow the government to strip Britons of their citizenship without any prior warning. Under the new legislation, almost half of ethnic minorities could be deprived of their citizenship status, compared to just one in 20 people from a white background.
It was passed in the House of Commons earlier in December last year, and is currently being debated in the House of Lords.
It triggered condemnation from MPs and campaigners at the time, who labeled it as “inhumane.” More than 300,000 people have signed a government petition against the bill, demanding its suspension.
Sabby Dhalu, 42, from Stand Up to Racism, said at the protest site that the bill’s “sole function is simply racism. It’s a tool to divide, distract, and scapegoat and it [is] part of a failing government agenda to blame Black people, brown people, and refugees.”
“I strongly believe that aspects of it, like Clause 9, will mean that innocent Black people will be deported like we saw in the Windrush scandal, and we have a duty to oppose that, not just let it happen again,” Dhalu added.
The Windrush scandal refers to a decision by the Home Office that wrongly detained, denied legal rights to, and deported at least 83 people from the UK in 2018.
“It’s being seen as racist and creating a second-class citizenship of who is ‘more British’ than another,” Ragad Altikriti, president of the Muslim Association of Britain, said, adding that, “Suddenly, this law is saying that if you come from a different background and the government does not like your behavior — as the rulings are very vague — your citizenship could be stripped.”
Removing citizenship is not a new phenomenon in the UK, as the government has been able to do it for more than a century, with the home secretary deciding each case personally.