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Nationality and Borders Bill leaves foreign born citizens open to discrimination

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The Nationality & Borders Bill, awaiting its second reading in the House of Lords, will leave foreign-born British people open to discrimination, according to campaigners, making it harder for ethnic minorities to find work.

The bill, subject to widespread controversy, bolsters the government’s powers to strip foreign-born citizens of their citizenship and makes it more difficult for refugees to claim asylum.

Analysis by the New Statesman of ONS figures found that under the new law, two in five (41%) ethnic minority people - and around 5,600,000 people in total - in England and Wales could be eligible to be deprived of their citizenship without being told.


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Jabeer Butt, CEO of the Race Equality Foundation, told HR Magazine that the legislation will make it harder for ethnic minorities in Britain to find work.

“Unfortunately, over the past 15 years we've seen a series of laws that have made it harder for ethnic minority communities to work, from the requirement to check people's nationality, to English proficiency tests. 

“Adding this Bill on top is sure to increase the obstacles faced by these communities, and further embed existing employment inequalities.”

He added that businesses should take care not to stray into discriminatory practices, especially when hiring.

“Employers need to ensure they are on the front foot with this,” he said.

“In particular, staff that are involved in recruitment should be made aware that this is potentially discriminatory to ethnic minority applicants, so that they can act accordingly.”

Concerns similarly extend to refugees, whose path to a new life is contingent on being granted asylum and finding employment.

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, told HR Magazine: “This bill denies employment rights to asylum seekers who want to work.

“It will drive them into the shadow economy where they will be too fearful to complain about abuse and exploitation. And it will harm all working people and legitimate employers by undercutting them.”

She added that the UK needs a bill that would provide safe asylum routes into the UK, and provide asylum seekers a right to work.

“This will prevent human trafficking into abusive employment, and it will help protect good employers and decent jobs for all workers,” O’Grady added.

For employers right now, however, Aliya Mohammed, CEO of Race Equality First, recommended taking real action.

She said: “As we see the government back-peddling even further on making race equality a reality in the UK with the recent amendment to the Nationality and Borders Bill, it is more important than ever that employees reaffirm their commitment to race equality in the workplace.”

Simple measures, such as thorough communication of policy, visible leadership on the issue, and mandatory bias training, she said, can allow companies to actually reach race equality.

Finally, she stressed: “Ensure that all senior staff always take action on any racial bullying and harassment incidents within your organisation - and monitor reports and the actions taken.”