Residents in Walsall 'scared' of deportation over proposed immigration bill

Scared residents in Walsall fear they could lose their British citizenship and be dumped in countries alien to them if a proposed immigration bill is passed, councillors say.

Walsall Council
Walsall Council

Councillors said people in the borough have been contacting them expressing concerns about what Section 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill currently being passed through parliament will mean for them.

There are fears people whose heritage can be traced back to other countries could be deported without any notice or the right to legal representation.

At a full Walsall Council meeting on Monday, councillors including Labour’s Aftab Nawaz, Khizar Hussain and Sabina Ditta as well as Conservatives Suky Samra and Gurmeet Singh Sohal gave emotional addresses on the impact the clause could have.

Labour had put forward a motion asking the council to write to the Home Secretary expressing opposition to the clause.

This was defeated by an amended motion from the ruling Conservatives, who said they were concerned the original focused mainly on the ‘BAME community’ and excluded others of dual nationality.

Leader Mike Bird, along with fellow Tory Waheed Rasab, also poured scorn on the argument the bill would target innocent citizens and stressed it would focus on people posing a threat to national security.

But they acknowledged there was anxiety and stress caused by it across the borough and agreed to express opposition to Section 9.

Councillor Nawaz said: “It creates fear amongst those people whose heritage can be traced back to other countries, particularly BAME communities.

“People are really scared about what this means for them, their friends and families. Many are really upset about the way this law has been brought around.

“It was amended at the very last moment and only discussed for nine minutes in parliament. But this has a fundamental impact on the citizenship of our communities and people.

“The danger in this section is not only what it is looking to do but the way it is doing it.

“Without a hint of notice, somebody can be picked up and taken away from this country and dropped off in a nation which may be alien to them only on the basis they can trace their heritage back to that nation.

“Therefore without the principle and the fundamental right of British citizens to defend themselves and be represented by lawyers to fight their case, that is the danger with it – without representation we can be removed from this country.”

Councillor Samra added: “I don’t condone any crime against this state and anyone who commits such atrocities should be punished with the full force of the legal system thrown at them.

“However this clause introduces a grey area and gives the Home Secretary the power to remove that citizenship under the guise of public interest. This is very subjective.

“This bill creates a two-tier system because that does not apply to millions of others.

“Let’s take some of our most notorious criminals who have committed some sickening crimes.

“Ian Huntley, Rose West and the killers of poor six-year-old Arthur Hughes. Can we take their citizenship? As much as we would like to the answer is no, we cannot.

“Yet, we will be able to take the citizenship of those I’ve mentioned born here and only know this country as home.”

Councillor Bird said: “Our amendment says to the people of Walsall that wherever you are from you’re welcome in Walsall and we will protect you by fighting for your rights here and now. This council is inclusive of all communities.”

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