UK lawmakers quietly authorize terminating citizenship without notice

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British MPs have passed a bill which makes sweeping changes to asylum and refugee rules as well as giving the home secretary the power to remove someone’s citizenship without telling them.

Last Wednesday, amid media uproar about a 2020 Downing Street Christmas party that allegedly defied Covid-19 rules, British MPs passed the Nationality and Borders Bill through the House of Commons. The bill, which aims to tighten up rules around migration and asylum, passed 298 to 231.

“Our Bill will bring in a new, comprehensive, fair but firm long-term plan that seeks to address the challenge of illegal migration head on,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told the Commons. 

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The legalization has been widely criticized for a number of reasons; first among them is the move to give the home secretary the power to revoke citizenship without telling people. Clause 9 – “Notice of decision to deprive a person of citizenship” – gives the exemption from having to provide notice of the removal of citizenship.

The exemption is applicable when the home secretary does not have the required information to give notice, as well as for any other reason deemed “reasonably practicable.” It is also noted that notice should not be given if it endangers national security, diplomatic relations, or if it’s in the public interest.

More than 250,000 people have since signed a petition calling for Clause 9 to be removed from the bill.

The bill also creates a two-tier asylum system, separating those that have arrived from dangerous countries from those who have arrived from elsewhere in the world. Asylum seekers are also required to make their claim at a “designated space” and criminalizes illegally arriving in the UK.

The bill will be read in the House of Lords in the new year before moving to Royal Assent.

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