Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 24, October 30, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Defend the Rights of All! No One Is Illegal!

Stepping up the Opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill

On Wednesday, October 20, as the Nationality and Borders Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons, hundreds gathered in Parliament Square to protest against the latest assault on the rights of refugees. Those participating included Together With Refugees, a coalition of refugee support agencies, other anti-racists and refugees themselves.

Writing in Counterfire, Peter Bird points out that the provisions of the Bill include:

Peter Bird writes:

Together with refugees in London, 20-10-2021 - Photo Peter Bird

"A succession of speakers on Wednesday related highly distressing accounts of how they were unsafe and many of them persecuted, in the countries they fled from. They described imprisonment and abuse. Others described being incarcerated in detention centres in Britain on arrival, and many spoke of the torment of waiting inordinate lengths of time for their status in Britain to be determined. Poverty, war, and deprivation caused by climate change were also mentioned as reasons why life became untenable in the countries they fled from.

"A recurring theme expressed by those that spoke in Parliament Square is that they want to build a new life in Britain, in freedom and safety, and they wanted to work, apply the skills and talents they have, and to contribute. While they were saying all this, the bill was passed in parliament by 366 votes to 265, although it has some way to go before becoming law.

"Sarha, who arrived in Britain recently from Afghanistan, told the audience, 'I wish no one was forced to leave their homes because of war. War shows how anyone could be a refugee.'

"Many of the refugee support groups point out that the people this proposed law aims at already feel desperate enough to risk their lives travelling by precarious means, such as in small boats across the channel, and they are unlikely to be deterred.

"The government's attempt to justify the legislation, by saying it prevents people smuggling, has been rightly criticised by the Labour peer Lord Dubs who points out that the way to do that is to create safe passage for refugees.

"Speakers called the bill the most brutal, oppressive and unjust immigration law any British government has ever produced. Fortunately, refugees and immigrants are not alone in their fight. Actions such as the recent one in Glasgow, where a working-class community occupied the streets for eight hours and successfully stopped the deportation of two Indian Sikhs who had been deemed over-stayers provide an example of the kind of resistance that is possible. The Royal National Lifeboat Institute has said that it will continue to save the life of anyone who is in danger at sea, in spite of the possibility that the legislation, if enacted, will make them liable for prosecution."

It can be said to be ironic that at this time when the Bill, which attacks the humanity of refugees, asylum seekers and those living in this country whose birthplace is not Britain, is going through Parliament, October 30 marked the 40th anniversary of the watershed racist and chauvinist British Nationality Act. The racism and chauvinism of the British state is an attack on the rights of all, treating people not as human beings but as things to be classified as "patrials" or "non-patrials", "legal" or "illegal". This is repugnant to all democratic people and is being resisted on the basis of defending the rights of all!

No to the Nationality and Borders Bill! No One Is Illegal!

For further discussion on the Bill, see:
Aaron Gates-Lincoln, "With the Nationality and Borders Bill, the UK is choosing cruelty over morality", Electronic Immigration Network, July 19, 2021


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