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Farry seeks to Amend Nationality and Borders Bill

Alliance Party MP Stephen Farry will seek to amend the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill this week – a wide-ranging Bill seeking to criminalise those fleeing war and persecution, making the asylum system even more challenging to navigate and impedes those trying to assist those in peril.

Dr Farry has tabled a number of amendments to the bill and has co-sponsored a broad range of other amendments to reverse the anti-humanitarian measures proposed by the Government, including the right to work for asylum seekers.

The Bill, which also covers nationality issues, contains provisions for new US-style visa waivers, ‘Electronic Travel Authorisations’, that non-Irish visitors must undertake before travelling to the United Kingdom. While the Government insists there will be ‘no routine’ immigration checks on the land border on the island of Ireland, these requirements will nevertheless create new bureaucracy and legal uncertainty for thousands of EU citizens and others resident south of the border that cross the border often on a daily basis. 

North Down Alliance MP, Stephen Farry, has tabled amendments to exempt Irish land journeys from the ETA requirement, and to force the UK Government to properly implement the citizenship and identity aspects of the Good Friday Agreement. These have been crystallised by the ‘Emma de Souza case’

Farry has also tabled an amendment to prevent UK Border Patrol from pushing back boats of asylum seekers and other migrants in the Channel – an action that breaches the UK’s international human rights obligations.

In addition, he has co-sponsored a broad range of other amendments to reverse the anti-humanitarian measures proposed by the Government, including the right to work for asylum seekers.

Stephen Farry stated: “The UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill is a stain on this Government. It is a horrible piece of legislation that dehumanises and criminalises vulnerable people fleeing war and persecution, who have every right to claim asylum in the UK.  

“There are also clauses dealing with nationality and immigration control. 

“Along with other colleagues, I am using the Bill to continue the campaign for the Government to amend its domestic law to reflect the citizenship and identity commitments that the UK signed up to in 1998. This gives people born in Northern Ireland the freedom to choose and be treated as British, Irish or both.

“The Bill also sets out the legal basis for the introduction of Electronic Travel Authorisations. These will be required for all non British, non Irish and others without legal residency in the UK. We await details regarding waiting time for application, cost, and duration.”

“While the Government say that they are committed to no routine immigration controls on the island of Ireland, this is not entrenched in legislation. But regardless, these provisions will create additional burdens and legal uncertainty for the many thousands of EU Citizens and others living in Ireland, especially those what routinely cross the border on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day. In particular if any such person had an accident or otherwise had to interact with the UK state when in Northern Ireland they could find themselves in a difficult position.

"The potential repercussions are very serious. Failure to hold an ETA could result in a summary conviction leading to imprisonment of up to six months or a statutory fine, or a conviction on indictment could lead to imprisonment for up to four years or a fine or both. And we know from experience that our Black and ethnic minority communities will be disproportionately impacted.”

“I have tabled an amendment to exempt travel on the island from the requirement for an ETA.”