Tag Archives: nationality and borders bill

Showing understanding, welcome and humanity – The Windermere Children

I was moved to tears watching “The Windermere Children” on TV this week.

It told the story of how, in 1945, our government took in 700 traumatised children from the camps in Germany and Poland. They had witnessed scenes more harrowing than we can imagine, almost certainly lost all of their family, killed by the Nazis.

300 of them were taken to a place near to Lake Windermere, and I saw how gradually they began to understand that they were free, were not going to be taken away, that they were loved, welcomed and treated with respect.

All the way through they were treated with dignity. Trauma was understood and taken account of. Time was given for them to express what had happened in their own way. Any wrong doing was not punished in way usual for those times, but with understanding and in a way that they understood what was wrong. The love and welcome were consistent.

Posted in Op-eds | 1 Comment

Sally Hamwee writes…Lib Dem Lords will do our best to fight Nationality and Borders Bill

Ministers quite often urge “professional curiosity”,  a probing, analytical approach, not a careless, unthoughtful, knee-jerk response.  They haven’t applied it to the Nationality and Borders Bill – that’s the Bill that creates deserving and undeserving asylum-seekers, allows the Home Secretary to make people stateless, and provides for pushing back small boats at sea. And more.

Professional (political) curiosity should also prompt questions from us all about how a Bill (whose 100 plus pages I would like to throw out almost wholesale) can have any appeal.  Have people had bad encounters with individual refugees? Unlikely. Is it fear of the “other”? We are a mongrel nation; I tick the “White Briton” box, but I often think about what recent immigrants my family were.  Is it insecurity about housing, jobs, the economy? Quite possibly – and that’s where government effort should go, along with taking a lead on integration and valuing refugees.  This Bill extends the hostile environment to one of aggressive hostility.

Nor is it trauma-informed, and won’t become so by asserting that this is what guides the Home Office.  That’s the very clear view of the many organisations who know that assessing an asylum seeker’s age is not a straightforward matter of science, but should be about safeguarding (there’s a lot in the Bill that’s very damaging to children).  And that someone who has been subject to appalling experiences at home and undertaken an almost unimaginable journey to the UK is not going to be able instantly to relate their story fully and cogently, or probably for a considerable time (if ever).

We are told the Bill is to break the business model of smugglers.  I thought that politicians who admire successful business people should understand that they find ways round obstacles. The Bill will strengthen their hold over asylum seekers; it plays into their business model.

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We must oppose illiberal powers to strip British people of citizenship

Our illiberal Government is trying to strengthen its ability to deprive people of British citizenship. We must take action to worsen a two-tier system of citizenship for those who have been born British citizens.

How did this mess begin?

Originally, the Home Secretary could only deprive naturalised citizens of citizenship, and not if it would make someone stateless. This power wasn’t used until 2002. Then, Labour expanded the power to cover British-born citizens. We were the only major party to oppose. In 2006, Labour expanded the power once again, and again we were the only major party to oppose.

Unfortunately, the Coalition widened the power’s illiberality. In 2014, it expanded the deprivation powers to foreign-born British citizens without dual nationality, allowing them to be made stateless if the Government believed they could obtain citizenship elsewhere.

Under Javid, the Government used this power on a British-born citizen without dual citizenship, on the assumption that they could theoretically become a citizen of another country. The use of these powers also increased. Between 2006-2012, the power was used 21 times – but 104 times in 2017.

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