The Nationality and Borders bill yesterday (28th April 2022) became law, passing. Despite outcry from organisations, advocates, those with lived experience and three defeats in the House of Lords, this bill has passed its final commons vote. According to the UK government press release, the bill will be implemented over the course of the next year.
The passing of this bill marks a dark and sad day for migrant rights, Far from any possibility of a fair and just system, this regressive and oppressive legislation puts back migrant rights and according to many international and domestic commentators is incompatible with our international obligations. The UNHCR said about the passing of the bill;
"UNHCR regrets that final amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill were rejected. The Bill will now become law. The new law undermines established international refugee protection laws and practices and risks causing very real suffering to vulnerable people."
"The Refugee Convention is as relevant as ever and continues to uphold the rights of refugees. Even after the Nationality and Borders Bill becomes law, UNHCR will continue to advocate against this damaging legislation and to protect refugee rights in the UK and around the world. Refugees should not be criminalised for seeking sanctuary in the UK. UNHCR will continue to argue for the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and stateless people, regardless of how they arrive. Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right."
We feel that this is a regressive, dangerous piece of legislation, creating a two-tier system for those seeking safety in the UK and paving the way for further harms in our immigration system. The fact that national and international bodies, the House of Lords and charities in the UK have spelt out the risks and incompatibility with our international obligations and have pushed ahead with this legislation is deeply concerning.
Reading this result alongside the Policing and Crime Bill and the Government's long standing proposal of a British Bill of Rights, there is a worrying trend towards oppressive legislation that aims to dilute our human rights. Both of these have also been widely condemned both within and outside parliament and have received similar damnation in respect of our human rights obligations. This is not, in our view, only anti-migrant, but it sets a tone for our human rights collectively. After all, if they are not collective rights we all have, they are not human rights.
The wide ranging bill will cross several areas of our practice, from age disputes, Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and families seeking asylum.
Email your MP today
Whilst the passing of this bill is concerning, it is important that we continue to stand up and condemn the passing of this bill into law.
Refugee Action have set up a campaign to email your MP in a few simple steps and tell them what you think about the passing of the Nationality and Borders Bill.