As the racist nationality and borders bill goes through its last stages in parliament, around 500 people marched in London on Sunday to call for its defeat.
A wide range of groups—including refugee support organisations, anti-racists, Sikh and Muslim organisations—backed the demo. It marched from the Home Office to a rally in Parliament Square had a strong sense of unity among all those who will be targeted by the new measures. Protester Randeep, a lorry driver, told Socialist Worker, “We need to stand up and rise together. Not just one group but all of us.”
The bill would also make it a criminal offence to arrive in Britain “without a valid entry clearance”. But this is virtually impossible for those fleeing war, desperate poverty and climate catastrophe.
The maximum sentence for arriving without all the required documents would be four years’ imprisonment. Randeep added, “How is someone in Yemen or Ukraine supposed to check they have all the visas before they flee for their lives? It is a guarantee of injustice.”
The bill’s Clause 9 extends the home secretary’s powers to strip people of their British citizenship. Protester Sarah Clark-Menzies said, “This clause potentially affects the citizenship rights of almost half of all Asian British people and two in five black Britons.
“Up to six million people are left living in fear that if they get into any sort of trouble, whether they are guilty or not, they could be arrested, judged in secret and deported. It is specific, racist legislation.”
The home secretary already has very broad powers that were extended under Labour in 2003 and 2006 and then under the Tories in 2014 and 2018.
Sabby Dhalu, co-convenor of Stand Up To Racism, told a rally at the end of the march that the racist bill was a “grotesque attack” that will “undermine all our rights”. She added that it was an outrage that “black people in Ukraine are being prevented from boarding trains leaving the city. We need to fight for everyone’s right to asylum.”
Dhalu invited everyone to join the anti-racist demonstrations in London. Glasgow and Cardiff on 19 and 20 March. The Scottish and Welsh administrations have both recently passed motions saying they are against the nationality and borders bill. But that will not stop it from being applied to Scotland and Wales.
If the Edinburgh and Cardiff governments are serious they must move from words to refusing to comply with the home office and setting up defence for the racist bill’s victims as well as welcoming all refugees.
The Tories’ protest-smashing, Traveller-hunting, police bill is also returning to parliament on Monday for its final reading.
Protesters were clear they are against both of these bills. But even if they are slightly amended, both are likely to be law soon. That means the task is to make them unworkable. That means militant solidarity with the laws’ victims.
Over 100 people joined a rally against the bill in Halifax on Sunday. It was called by the St Augustine’s Centre in Halifax, along with Migrants Organise, backed by Stand Up to Racism from Calderdale and Kirklees and by Calderdale TUC, as well as a group of LGBT+ campaigners and Labour figures.
The mood was militant, with a clear message that refugees are welcome here and always will be.
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