House of Lords Wrecks Borders Bill Clause Criminalising Illegal Boat Migration

DOVER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Migrants are brought into Dover docks by Border Force staff on September 9, 2021 in Dover, England. Facing a continued rise in migrant arrivals across the English Channel, the British government has authorised its Border Force to turn back boats while at sea, in some …
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Home Secretary Priti Patel’s immigration bill suffered serious setbacks on Monday evening in the House of Lords, which rejected key elements of the proposed legislation, including criminalising illegal migration by alleged asylum seekers.

The government’s long-touted Nationality and Borders Bill, which seeks to curb the record waves of illegal aliens arriving by boat and other means to the UK, saw four sections rejected on Monday by the House of Lords, which sent the legislation back to the Commons.

Peers in the upper house of the British Parliament voted by a margin of 204 to 126 to reject Clause 11 of the bill, which sought to differentiate between refugees who arrive through official channels and those who illegally enter the country before claiming asylum, as is the case for the vast majority of boat migrants.

The legislation would have made it possible for the government to jail illegal migrants for up to four years as well as being able to reject asylum claims as inadmissible, The Guardian reported. Those found in violation would also be prohibited from accessing public funding and be prevented from having their family members apply for chain migration settlements.

It has been argued that criminalising the act of illegally arriving in the UK, including for those who are brought ashore by the Border Force, would reduce the pull factors leading to record numbers attempting the perilous and sometimes deadly journey across the English Channel.

The government has been warned that up to as 65,000 could land this year, nearly double last year’s record of 28,400. Showing no signs of slowing down, the flows of migrants across the Channel has continued its record-setting pace, with another 90 arriving on Saturday, taking the total for the year to 1,448, according to the Daily Mail.

Commenting on the borders bill to Breitbart London, Migration Watch UK chairman Alp Mehmet said: “The amendment to this central clause of the Nationality and Borders Bill is extremely damaging. Doubtless, other amendments will follow as the Bill goes through the Lords where Labour and LibDems have the numbers to defeat the government.

“Such emasculating changes will render the eventual legislation worthless. That is why It is imperative that they are reversed when the Bill returns to the Commons if it is to bear even the modest value we have envisaged all along.”

Yet, the rejection of the clause from the bill by the unelected legislative body was heralded by pro-refugee groups, in and outside the UK.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in an immediate response to the Lords’ vote: “UNHCR welcomes House of Lords vote to remove Clause 11 from the Nationality and Borders Bill. By denying refugees the rights the Refugee Convention grants them, this Clause would create suffering in those simply seeking safety. We urge the government to back this decision.”

While Steve Valdez-Symonds of Amnesty International UK said: “Vital victory for Refugee Convention rights removing plainly unlawful and harmful provision in Bill to allow some refugees to be stripped of their rights to asylum even after proving their entitlement and status.”

The House of Lords also rejected a section of the bill that would have allowed the government to strip people of their British citizenship without warning. In recent years, the government has been facing increased struggles to deport foreign national offenders, with activist lawyers persistently launching last-minute appeals to block deportations.

In the year leading up to September of last year, the government was only able to deport 2,830 foreign criminals, some 47 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels.

The government had argued that the clause in the bill to remove citizenship without warning was necessary for “national security” in instances such as terrorism.

Last week it was revealed by a freedom of information request by the Migration Watch UK think tank that 98 per cent of illegal boat migrants land in Britain without a passport, a phenomenon that campaigners, such as Brexit’s Nigel Farage have warned will only increase the risk of terrorism faced by Britain.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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