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PRITI PATEL’S plans to impose visa sanctions on countries if they refuse to accept deportees from Britain will lead to “more discrimination against black and brown people” a charity warned today.
It comes as reports suggest the Home Secretary is planning on drawing up a “league table” of nations based on their co-operation with Britain’s deportation regime.
This table will be used in negotiations with countries to press them into accepting a returns agreement with the British government, according to The Times.
Countries that fall low down on the table will face sanctions, the paper reported.
Powers contained in the new Nationality and Borders Act, which came into force last month, now allow Ms Patel to sanction countries considered not to be co-operating with returns of its citizens or nationals.
Those penalties include imposing a £190 surcharge on applications to come to Britain, increasing visa processing times or even suspending visa applications from that country entirely.
This can be applied to all kinds of visas including visitor, study and settlement in Britain.
The announcement of the proposals, made last year, sparked widespread criticism with groups describing the plans as a form of “blackmail.”
Despite this, the latest developments suggest the Home Secretary is pushing ahead with the plans.
The league table will place countries such as Albania, Poland and Nigeria, which are willing to accept people with rejected asylum claims and criminal convictions, higher up.
Eritrea, Gambia and Bangladesh are understood to be the nations with which Britain encounters the greatest difficulty in returning citizens.
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants advocacy director Zehrah Hasan described Ms Patel’s plan as “manipulative.”
“It would mean that countries are essentially blackmailed into accepting returns, with visas for their citizens at risk if they refuse,” she said today.
“So if you’re a Bangladeshi artist, or an Eritrean student, you could essentially have your visa to the UK rejected because of Priti Patel’s political posturing.
“It’s yet another racist and immoral plan from this government, that will only lead to more discrimination against black and brown people looking to travel to the UK.”
Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director Steve Valdez-Symonds described the deal as “another shamefully oppressive immigration policy” from the government.
“Penalising people by refusing, withholding, or cancelling their visas because their national authorities have — in the Home Secretary's view — in some way misbehaved is vindictive and arbitrary,” he said.
“This will cause serious human and financial costs to people who have done nothing but make and pay for a visa application in accordance with the UK government’s rules.
“It continues the dismal endeavour of the Home Secretary in making the UK immigration system a byword for injustice and indifference to people.”
The reports come after the government announced a new migration pact with Nigeria on Monday following a deportation flight to the country last week.
The government has repeatedly come under fire over attempts to ramp up deportations of “immigration offenders and foreign criminals,” which has seen people who have lived in Britain since childhood, as well as the parents of British children, removed from the country.
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