I have been disappointed by the lack of outrage over the government’s Nationality and Borders bill, specifically Clause 9, which disproportionally affects black and brown residents in the UK, allowing the government to remove people with dual citizenship or with parents who were born abroad, without warning.
However, this Clause does much more than that. In stripping people of their fundamental human rights based on technicalities, this bill strikes fear in the hearts of millions of people in the UK who are now at risk of this bill, and they are least likely to speak out about it, because the right to do so has just been compromised.
My German-born friend has lived here for 40 years and is now so afraid of losing his home that he says he will never sign a petition again in case he is deemed to be an enemy of the government. Family members are now afraid to visit family abroad in case they can’t come back over something as simple as an admin error. Without the right to a fair trial in the UK in case of deportation, how would such an error be identified and remedied?
My own parents, at whom I always rolled my eyes when they said “you were born here, but they will never accept you”, have been proven right. I am now a second-rate citizen: if I take the wrong step, I could be deported to India, a country I have never lived in.
Millions of people in the UK now live with unspoken fear. We are not just a statistic. We are your friends neighbours, family members, colleagues and more. We are your nurses and doctors, teachers and bin collectors.
If we let this bill pass, and allow the right to protest to be restricted through the policing bill, what will remain?
As the famous words by Martin Niemöller go:
First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.
A question niggles me. If I continue to engage in climate action, will I be put on a flight to a country that I have never called home? Many of us will now keep our heads down, living in fear of losing everything through exercising freedoms we currently have as UK citizens.
It seems that this is what these bills are designed to do, and we must speak out against them before we no longer have the right to speak at all.