Dozens of charity leaders step up lobbying against Nationality and Borders Bill

Charity leaders including Samaritans chief executive Julie Bentley are among 100 civil society professionals and public figures to sign a joint open letter to the government opposing the Nationality and Borders Bill.

The legislation is being debated in the House of Lords this week after being passed by the House of Commons last month.

If made law the bill would criminalise people arriving in the UK without permission and introduce longer sentences for people entering the UK without legal reason.

But the letter signed by the charity leaders says that the Bill is an “assault against migrant rights” and lead to the “disenfranchisement and even deportation of people of colour on an unprecedented scale”.

It is also in contravention of international law around refugees, says the letter and “dehumanises the most vulnerable”.

“The bill will punish refugees on arrival, it will extend their detention and make it even more difficult for people to be released, adds the letter.

“The bill makes provisions for offshore processing of migrants, which will render them without rights or protections at all.

“Furthermore, the bill sets out a range of draconian measures to exclude people from the UK, including a lethal change which allows Border Forces to turn back boats carrying refugees across the Channel.”

Other charity chief executives to sign the letter include Runnymede Trust’s Dr JHalima Begum, Mental Health First Aid England’s Simon Black and Sarah Hughes of the Centre for Mental Health.

Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon, Social Founder Network director Caroline Diehl and the writer Neil Gaiman are also among signatories.

The full list of signatories, and the letter can be found here.

At its third and final reading in the House of Commons in December the Nationality and Borders Bill was backed by 298 MPS, while 231 voted against it.

The letter around the Bill is the latest example already in 2022 of charities linking up to jointly lobby politicians on areas of shared concern.

Earlier this week several green charities joined forces to urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson to enact pledges around conservation and climate change, made at the COP26 Summit.

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