The tragedy of the 27 people that died navigating the treacherous channel crossing was etched in our minds as we reflected on writing this piece. The UK Government’s response to such a needless loss of life made clear that they are neither genuine nor committed to ensuring people are able to seek safety and sanctuary in the UK and that refugees are not welcome here despite what the branding of Operation Warm Welcome might suggest.
Whatever the reasons these people decided to take that risky journey, it created a watershed moment, which you would hope would in turn sway those in power emotionally. Yet, this moment only pushed the government to double down their efforts to make the UK an unwelcome destination, and compel people into the hands of smugglers and potentially traffickers.
Developing the specifics of how to provide more and better safe routes to the UK needs careful consideration, but reinstating the ‘Dubs amendment’ route for child refugees and facilitating easier pathways to family reunion would be a step towards a more humanitarian approach.
Feeling safe and secure is a basic human need, perhaps especially so for those whose immigration status or heritage can make them feel more vulnerable.
Deprivation of citizenship and nationality is not new, it’s been enacted since the 1981 British Nationality Act which gives the power of depriving citizenship under strict circumstances, and often when the victim is abroad. What emerged was a rapid use of these powers, and then a subsequent amendment through the Immigration Act 2014 (hostile environment policies) that expanded the ability of the Home Secretary to revoke British citizenship even if that rendered them stateless.
The only moments we hear about derivation of citizenship is through high profile cases such as Shamima Begum, and where someone has been suspected of terrorism. In spite of who it has been used against, it is a law that needs to be challenged on the basis that is a highly discriminatory power which disproportionately affects racialised communities.
Priti Patel parroting the line “Citizenship is a privilege, not a right” has shone a light on this unjust policy. Maybe it will inspire those within and beyond the sector to challenge anyone being denied a nationality and citizenship regardless of the crimes they may have committed or be accused of.
Click here to read more of this month’s enewsletter including: Support services for detainees and migrant victims, Mental health support via The Together Programme, IOM’s week of action #ItTakesACommunity, plus loads more!