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Defying intl. rights groups’ outcry, UK passes racist immigration bill

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel leaves Downing Street in London, Britain, on February 13, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

International and human rights lawyers have called the legality of nationality and borders legislation into question.

The new controversial Nationality and Borders Bill, presented to the parliament by Home Secretary Priti Patel, passed its third reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday, triggering condemnation from MPs and campaigners labeling it as "racist" and "inhumane."

Holding the parliamentary vote on Wednesday, 298 MPs voted in support of the bill, while only 231 voted against it, giving the Tories a 67 vote majority.

Announcing the results of the Commons vote, Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana tweeted, “I just voted on Priti Patel's Nationality and Borders Bill. It's an attack on refugee rights, criminalizing boats rescuing people at sea and violating our 70-year commitment to the Refugee Convention.”

“I voted against it, but disgracefully Conservative MPs voted it through,” she added.

The bill will allow the home secretary to strip Britons of their citizenship without any prior warning. Under the new legislation, almost half of ethnic minorities could get deprived from their citizen status, compared to just one in 20 people from a white background.

Francis Weber, vice-chair of the Institute of Race Relations, also criticized the government’s new bill, warning that “people with ethnic minority heritage become, effectively, sort of second-class citizens.”

The Interesting thing that worth noting is that Patel, who has presented the bill to the House of Commons, was born to a Ugandan-Indian family herself. 

Black Lives Matter UK linked the new legislation to ‘Windrush Scandal,’ in which the Home Office wrongly detained, denied legal rights, and threatened hundreds of people with deportation, and wrongly deported at least 83 cases from the UK in 2018.

Ahead of the Commons vote, a House of the Lords committee questioned the legality of the home secretary’s bill, while expressing particular concerns about Patel’s plan to make border guards push boats across the English Channel back into French waters.

Based on the inhumane bill, if any refugees die in these dangerous operations, border force staff would accept no responsibility, and anyone trying to help drowning refugees would be recognized as criminal.

The United Nations Refugee Agency also blasted the bill and warned that it “would penalize most refugees seeking asylum in the country, while undermining established international refugee protection rules and practices.”

The development comes in the wake of the tragic drowning of 27 people in the Channel earlier last month.

According to the Home Office statistics, more than 26,000 refugees have passed the country’s shores across the Channel in a single year.

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