We need the public to mobilise against the Nationality and Borders Bill. Clause 9 may be our best chance.
Like most in the refugee protection sector, we at IMIX have been spending our time generating media awareness of the harm the Nationality and Borders Bill will cause to innocent people fleeing danger and persecution.
From Rainbow Migration to Women for Refugee Women, we have also seen powerful calls by organisations to highlight the negative impact the Borders Bill will have on different intersections of displaced people.
However, despite the sector coming together with brilliant media pieces and the continuously influencing parliament, public mobilisation has been slow for the most part.
We have yet to see everyday people become alarmed on behalf of refugees and take democratic action on an impactful scale – whether that is writing to their MP, signing petitions or protesting.
So why has public outrage against the bill been so low, compared to recent outcries to other forms of legislation such as the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill?
Sadly, this could be because, as focus group-based research suggests, the experiences of refugees are so far removed from what most of us can imagine happening in our own lives. The privilege of living in a relatively safe country means that many of us, in the wider British public, struggle relating to the life-saving importance of the right to seek a new home if your place of origin is unsafe.
It is only when this sense of security is threatened in our own lives that we see people feeling galvanised to act, and mass public mobilisation protest follows. The proposed Policing Bill is a prime example of this in play, regarding how the public has responded.
So how do we impress on the wider public that the Borders Bill’s erosion of refugee rights is also detrimental to all of our rights?
We need to strongly point out that the Nationality and Borders Bill is a wider attack on those the government considers to be the ‘other’ in the UK.
Let’s build a coalition against the Borders Bill and Clause 9 by tapping into the recent movements we have seen around the world
Clause 9 proposes to expand an existing law whereby the Home Office can strip the British citizenship of people who could possibly be eligible for citizenship in another country. If it passes, the Home Secretary can do this without notifying the person or persons. Like many other provisions in the Bill, it also breaks international law, as it could possibly render people stateless.
The provision has raised alarm in historically marginalised communities, and the implications of this legislation has made it into the headlines.
Research by the New Statesman shows that this law could affect approximately 6 million people in the UK., and 2 in 5 people from ethnic minority backgrounds. People with Irish and Jewish heritage are also affected.
As spokespeople from religious and cultural groups have pointed out, this law is undeniably racist in its nature, and disproportionately targets historically marginalised people.
Alarmed at the discriminatory nature of this clause, Media Diversified coordinated a protest in January outside parliament. It received national press coverage in the BBC and in the New Statesman, bringing together groups as diverse as the Sikh Council UK and Black Lives Matter.
At the rally, speakers expressed how discriminated they felt, despite the UK being their only home. Their ‘Britishness’ is contingent on what our government considers good behaviour.
Clause 9 also affects nearly all refugees – as author and activist Gulwali Passarlay points out; Clause 9 is yet another way refugees’ statuses are never fully accepted.
By raising awareness in the wider public against this clause, and how it affects approximately 6 million people – the majority of whom are from historically marginalised backgrounds – we have an opportunity to mobilise a much wider segment of the population against the Nationality and Borders Bill.
We know that Clause 9 has uniquely bipartisan appeal in parliament as well as the public.
Previous debates saw right-wing, left-wing and cross-party peers making powerful speeches for this proposed law to be entirely struck out. From Labour’s Lord Woolley to Conservative peer Baroness Warsi, many have spoken out in deeply personal terms. They mentioned how their Britishness could be stripped from them due to their ethnic origins, making them feel like ‘second-class citizens.’
Clause 9 is a unique opportunity not only to bring together a wider segment of the population against the Borders Bill, but also to mobilise figures in parliament from across the political spectrum.
Doing so will help us stand a better chance of positive amendments for refugee protection (such as the right to work) being tabled and voted through.
These amendments will continue to be debated and voted on by both the Commons and the Lords. Ongoing media awareness and democratic action will help us stand a better chance of positive changes for refugees being voted through.
Continued democratic action and public sentiment is important for imminent votes in the Commons, whose elected representatives will no doubt be paying attention to the letters, emails and tweets they receive about the Borders Bill.
#SayNoToClause9 and help us raise awareness in the general public about the anti-refugee Borders Bill
We have started a campaign to spread awareness of the dangerous and discriminatory nature of Clause 9 in the hopes of mobilising some of the broader population against the Borders Bill. Taking part in this campaign is as simple as retweeting a campaign post or sharing your own. After all, there is a good chance you or a loved one will come under the purview of this proposed law.
The more media coverage and wider public condemnation this Bill sees, the more we stand a chance of influencing legislation to better protect refugees and strike down an inherently discriminatory law in the process.
You can help us raise awareness of Clause 9 in the general population by:
- Retweeting and sharing these powerful videos and posts on our Twitter account, including one by Lord Alf Dubs, Refugee Action’s Mariam Kemple Hardy and these other powerful posts.
- Sharing these Instagram posts.
- Posting on your organisations’ or personal accounts on social media with the hashtag #SayNoToClause9. Here are some ideas for posts that you can share.
- Writing a post about how Clause 9 personally makes you feel. We have seen many powerful written accounts by people with immigrant histories saying how the Borders Bill and Clause 9 makes them feel ‘other’.
- Signing this petition to strike down Clause 9 – and share the petition on social media
Some posts that you can retweet
'I fundamentally believe no British citizen should have their homeland taken away from them without notice.'@JuliaRampenMM explains why we should all #SayNoToClause9 of the #NationalityAndBordersBill, which could affect nearly 6 million people in the UK. pic.twitter.com/neoClbeoVN
— IMIX 🧡 (@IMIX_UK) January 28, 2022
'We cannot allow people to be made stateless. Surely citizenship is a right not a privilege.’
— IMIX 🧡 (@IMIX_UK) January 25, 2022