To: Priti Patel, Home Secretary
Citizenship must be a right, not a privilege. Government must scrap the Home Secretary’s power to strip people of their citizenship.
Section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981 gives the Home Secretary some seriously worrying powers. These include the right to strip someone of their UK citizenship if she thinks it “conducive to the public good”. And allowing her to remove a naturalised citizen’s citizenship as long as she has “reasonable grounds” for believing the person has a right to citizenship of another country. This could render them stateless - and for some has.
Phrases like “conducive to the public good” give the Home Secretary huge discretion. Priti Patel recently interpreted it to authorise the deportation of Osime Brown, an autistic teenager, to Jamaica - a country he hasn’t stepped foot in since the age of 4 and where he has no family, friends or support network. That decision was overturned after an intense public campaign. But individual public campaigns don’t do the job. We must address the underlying law.
Citizenship deprivation orders disproportionately affect people of colour, people with dual citizenship and groups that are already marginalised. The existence of Section 40 creates different classes of citizenship – white indigenous citizens have rights and freedoms that other citizens do not.
No civilised country should embed racism in its legal system. ‘Citizenship’ has no meaning if it discriminates against people of colour and naturalised citizens. Section 40 must be repealed - or at the very least its use constrained in law.