Black Britons and belonging: Meghan Markle versus the Windrush generation: Balkissoon

Appropriate and sharp contrast:

There are two big stories right now about black migrants in Britain, but only one is fun to pay attention to.

That would be that Meghan Markle, an American with a black mother and white father, is marrying Prince Harry. A beautiful, biracial commoner starring in a royal wedding is a fairy tale about race and Britishness the Crown can get behind. It’s a much better image than half a million black and brown citizens facing possible deportation.

But that, too, is currently happening: In fact, the Windrush scandal, as it’s known, became public around the same time as the Royal engagement, last November. That’s when The Guardian began publishing stories about people losing their health benefits, being put into immigration detention or being deported even though they had been citizens since birth.

These Britons were born in pre-independence Commonwealth countries, once considered far-flung parts of Britain itself. After the Second World War, when the U.K. was hit with a serious labour shortage, it appealed to the Queen’s global subjects to fill the void. Among the thousands that answered the call were the passengers of the MV Empire Windrush, which landed in June 1948 full of British citizens from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands.

That ship’s name has become a rallying cry for a generation: West Indians, South Asians and others who were told that arriving before the early 1970s gave them “the right to remain” in their supposed mother country. The problem is that now, decades later, much of the Windrush generation don’t have the paperwork to prove when they got there.

Many were children when they arrived, travelling on their parents’ passports. Few knew that the government was in possession of ship landing cards that could prove their arrival date – or that in 2010, the U.K. Border Agency began destroying them.

Two years after legal proof that thousands of mostly non-white people had a right to be in the U.K. disappeared, then-Home Secretary (or immigration minister) Theresa May introduced “hostile environment” policies meant to deter unwanted migrants. At least 50,000 of the over 500,000 Commonwealth citizens who moved to the U.K. in the Windrush period don’t have British passports: thousands of lives have been disrupted.

Sylvester Marshall, for example, learned he was an “illegal immigrant” when he went to replace a lost driver’s license. Mr. Marshall, who has worked and paid taxes in the U.K. for 44 years, had his cancer treatment delayed when he suddenly became ineligible for health-care.

Most of these people are senior citizens now, and many have lost their jobs or their rental homes or been put into immigration detention. At least 63 people seem to have been wrongfully deported, dark-skinned collateral damage in Ms. May’s anti-immigration offensive.

Meanwhile, Kensington Palace has bravely embraced its first openly non-white family member (rumours swirl about the possible African ancestry of Queen Charlotte, born in 1744). Prince Harry told the tabloids to stop being mean to his girlfriend, Princess Michael of Kent was made to apologize for wearing racist jewellery and the rest of us are supposed to be impressed.

Many are accepting these crumbs from the royal table, such as young Tshego Lengolo, who lives in working-class southeast London. The 11-year-old told the New York Times that she knows what it’s like to move to a new country, and that she’s ready to be Ms. Markle’s friend. My heart hurts for children fooled by such sad scraps of belonging, but I have no time for adult women penning paeans to the first “black princess.”

First of all, Ms. Markle will likely be given the title of duchess, which is a yawn. More importantly, like Kate Middleton and Diana Spencer before her, she’ll be giving up her career to be a wife. None of the bridesmaids in her wedding party will be little black girls like Tshego, and any children she bears will never reach the throne.

As far as updating the monarchy as a symbol for the modern world, these nuptials are fairly surface level − especially in a country coping with a scandal like Windrush.

Ms. Markle isn’t jumping the citizenship queue: becoming officially British will take her about three years. Perhaps that’s enough time for the Windrush generation to achieve fairness. There’s been a flurry of apologies and resignations, and talk of compensation is growing louder.

Will those who lost their jobs be given back pay? Will Mr. Marshall survive his cancer? By 2021, Ms. Markle will officially be a black Briton and, maybe, the Windrushers who were sent away will have made it back home.

via Black Britons and belonging: Meghan Markle versus the Windrush generation – The Globe and Mail

The Complicated History Of The U.S. Census Asking About Citizenship : NPR

Nice summary history (spoiler alert: squeezed out given concerns over Census length with addition of consumer and other questions):

Lawmakers are set to question the Justice Department Friday about why it requested the 2020 census to ask about citizenship. The history of using the U.S. census to ask about citizenship has many twists and turns.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Justice Department point person on civil rights heads to Capitol Hill tomorrow for what may be a tough hearing. It is about the 2020 census. The department has requested that the census form include a question about U.S. citizenship. The federal government has used the census to ask people about their citizenship before. NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang explains the surprising history.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: This is a story with lots of stops and starts, so we’ll need a tour guide.

MARGO ANDERSON: My name is Margo Anderson.

WANG: She’s a history professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

ANDERSON: Right. And I’m the author of “The American Census: A Social History.”

WANG: And she traces the first time all U.S. households were asked about citizenship all the way back to the census of 1820.

Was this still done on horseback at that time?

ANDERSON: Oh, certainly (laughter) – or walking.

WANG: That was the country’s fourth headcount. And census takers asked…

ANDERSON: Are there any foreigners not naturalized in your household? And if so, how many?

WANG: Anderson says she’s not sure why these questions were included.

ANDERSON: I haven’t found yet any evidence of the use of that information in terms of policies, which I think is why it simply disappeared.

WANG: By 1840, the government stops asking about foreigners who are not citizens. Fifty years pass before the topic comes up again in 1890. By this point, the federal government had been asking for decades about where people were born and where their parents were born. Anderson explains why.

ANDERSON: Well, we have lots of immigrants in the country right now. How are they doing?

WANG: So for the 1890 census, people born outside the U.S. were asked how long they’ve been in the country and whether they’ve become citizens. And census takers kept asking similar questions well into the 20th century.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “IN THE SUBURBS”)

WANG: We’re going to skip ahead to the years just before the 1960 headcount.

ANDERSON: The census officials and Congress begin to sort of say do we really still need to ask this?

WANG: The number of immigrants in the U.S. had been dropping. The list of census questions was long. And as this 1957 short film by Redbook magazine puts it…

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “IN THE SUBURBS”)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) It’s a happy go-spending world reflected in the windows of the suburban shopping centers where they go to buy.

WANG: Business leaders and researchers pushed the government to ask about a different set of topics.

ANDERSON: Particularly a lot of questions about consumer goods. Do people have televisions and washing machines?

WANG: This is what squeezes out the citizenship question.

ANDERSON: Yes.

WANG: In 1970, the government starts asking about citizenship on a small survey for a sample of households. Fast-forward to today. The Trump administration has approved a new citizenship question for all households in 2020. The Justice Department says it needs data from it to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. But Anderson says this citizenship question may confuse a lot of people.

ANDERSON: It’s like, why are you asking me this? Of course I’m a citizen. I was born here.

WANG: Critics say those born outside the U.S. may stay away from the census because of the question. More than two dozen states and cities are suing to remove it. Anderson sees this debate as part of the complicated census history of asking about citizenship. It’s been a series of twists and turns over 200 years. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News, Washington.

via The Complicated History Of The U.S. Census Asking About Citizenship : NPR

Australia: Citizenship crisis: coalition resists referendum in favour of new rules for candidates

Understandable reluctance giving risks and divisiveness of referendums (and not clear whether winnable) with the unfortunate result that Australian parliaments will continue to be significantly under-representative:

Candidates will have to disclose the birthplace and citizenship of themselves, their parents and grandparents before the next federal election under changes announced by the government to try to put an end to Australia’s citizenship crisis without a referendum.

On Thursday an inquiry examining section 44 of the constitution warned that, without a referendum, elections could be subject to “manipulation” by challenges against candidates with dual citizenship or other disqualifications.

Despite the electoral matters committee’s bipartisan push for a referendum to reform or repeal section 44 of the constitution, the special minister of state, Mathias Cormann, confirmed that the government was “not inclined to pursue a referendum”.

Instead the government will pursue steps “to minimise the risk of a recurrence of the eligibility issues” that have plagued the 45th parliament, in which 14 parliamentarians have resigned or been ruled ineligible since mid-2017 owing to dual citizenship.

The government set up the inquiry into section 44 by the joint standing committee on electoral matters after the high court ruled five senators and MPs ineligible in October.

In a bipartisan report released on Thursday, the committee recommended the government prepare a referendum question to either repeal all the disqualifications for standing for parliament in section 44 or to give parliament the power to set the disqualifications itself.

But the committee acknowledged a referendum “will not be positively received by Australians and the outcome … is uncertain”.

It accepted the “preconditions for a successful referendum on this issue will take time” and cannot be achieved before the “Super Saturday” byelections triggered by the high court’s ruling against Katy Gallagher or before the next federal election.

The committee suggested a series of measures to “mitigate the impact of section 44” including:

  • a requirement that all candidates reveal their family citizenship history at the time of nomination and information relevant to other disqualifications;
  • an “online self-assessment tool” to be developed by the Australian Electoral Commission;
  • improved education for minor parties and independents; and
  • exploring expedited citizenship renunciation processes with foreign governments.

At a press conference in Brisbane Malcolm Turnbull said the government did not have time to deal with a referendum before the next election and the Australian people “expect us to deal with the constitution as it stands”.

Even in the longer term, the prime minister said he “very much doubted” whether Australians would support a change to the constitution.

Cormann said the government would instead “move to improve the existing candidate nomination process for elections”.

In November the government introduced a new citizenship register requiring current and future parliamentarians to reveal their birthplace, that of their parents and grandparents and to produce documents showing renunciation of foreign citizenship 21 days after their election.

Cormann announced those requirements would now be applied to “candidates for election to the Australian parliament” who will provide the information to the AEC “as well as information on other potential disqualifications under section 44 of the constitution”. This is likely to require disclosure of criminal convictions, bankruptcies and interests in contracts with the government.

The committee warned that section 44 opened the electoral system to “the risk of manipulation, where a successful candidate could have their election challenged on the basis of preference flows from an ineligible candidate”.

“This raises the possibility of deliberate manipulation of disqualification rules to overturn an otherwise valid election,” it said.

The committee noted that when all the disqualifications in section 44 are considered – including foreign citizenship, employment in the public service and an “indirect pecuniary interest in an agreement with the commonwealth” – more than 50% of the Australian population is ineligible to run for parliament.

The report argued that the ban on dual citizens caused numerous problems, including uncertainty for parliamentarians who were unsure of the citizenship of their parents or grandparents, and the possibility that foreign governments could manipulate eligibility by not processing renunciation in a timely manner.

“Challenges to sitting members will continue into future elections; disrupting electoral outcomes, causing uncertainty and confusion, and having the potential to undermine the authority of both federal parliament and the constitution itself.”

Despite those dire warnings the chair of the electoral committee, the Liberal senator Linda Reynolds, told Guardian Australia she was “not [so] pessimistic” to suggest it will take further disqualifications to convince Australians of the need for a referendum.

“We need to start a conversation about whether the rules are the right ones for today’s society,” she said.

Reynolds cited the fact that public servants have to give up their jobs to run for parliament, and the citizenship requirements favour “Australians with a long-term unbroken family history” and those who can afford legal advice to remove disqualifications.

via Citizenship crisis: coalition resists referendum in favour of new rules for candidates | Australia news | The Guardian

Further article: Will we actually vote on changing the constitution after the dual citizenship fiasco? – Politics – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Government has pocketed $1-billion since 2013 increase in passport cost

Good ATIP work by Richard Kurland. Usual bafflegab responses. Should demand decrease because of 10 year passports, presumably so should the size of Passport Canada with unit costs remaining stable.

Particularly hard to see how the fee structure, and surpluses, comply with the Service Fees Act implemented by the current government in 2017:

The federal government has made more than $1-billion in profits from its passport program since significantly increasing the cost of a Canadian passport five years ago, according to newly released documents.

Canadian adults pay anywhere from $120 to $160 for an adult passport, despite the fact that it only cost the government $69.23 to produce the 36-page travel document in the 2016-17 fiscal year, according to immigration documents provided to The Globe and Mail by Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. The price increase appears to have contributed to hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual surpluses for the passport program from 2013 to 2017, totalling more than $1-billion over four years.

Mr. Kurland, who obtained the data under the Access to Information Act, said it is inappropriate for Ottawa to profit off the backs of Canadian taxpayers.

“A billion dollars made in just four years is a lot of money and the money comes directly from individual Canadians who are overpaying for their Canadian passports,” Mr. Kurland said in an interview.

“Instead of keeping the profit, they should be lowering the passport fee.”

Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government increased the cost of passports in 2013 in an effort to cover the nearly $5 it was losing every time it issued a passport. In addition to boosting the cost of a five-year passport from $87 to $120, the government also started providing a 10-year passport at a cost of $160, increased the cost of a child’s passport by $20 to $57 and introduced a $45 replacement fee for lost or stolen documents.

Canadians ordering passports from outside of the country face the biggest fees today – $190 for a five-year passport or $260 for the 10-year document.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said in a statement that the passport program operates on a “cost-recovery basis,” meaning it finances its operations entirely from fees charged for passports and other travel documents. IRCC spokesperson Nancy Caron said the program is currently in the middle of its 10-year business cycle, which started in July, 2013, and plans to use revenues from the first half of that period to offset the anticipated drop in demand for passports as a result of the 10-year passport option.

“No changes are currently planned to the passport fee structure. The passport program closely monitors its financial status to ensure that it is in compliance with all relevant authorities governing the program,” Ms. Caron said.

However, NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan called on the government to conduct a full review of the passport-fee structure.

“The cost of the processing fees for passports should reflect the actual cost itself,” Ms. Kwan said.

Ms. Kwan said high passport costs limit the ability of low-income Canadians to obtain the important travel document. For instance, she said, many seniors in her Vancouver-area riding have complained about the high cost of a passport on a fixed income.

The Conservatives declined to comment on the passport-program profits.

Comparatively, American adults pay US$145 for a new 10-year passport, while British citizens are required to pay the equivalent of about $115.

via Government has pocketed $1-billion since 2013 increase in passport cost – The Globe and Mail

Violeta Moskalu: Bill aims to strip Ukrainians living abroad of citizenship | KyivPost

Will be interesting to see whether the Ukrainian Canadian community takes a more high profile on this this proposed legislation (welcome comment by any Ukrainian Canadian readers).

StatsCan data suggests that less than 10 percent of Ukrainian immigrants (first generation) have dual citizenship:

The Verkhovna Rada may soon consider amendments that could deprive many Ukrainians living abroad of their citizenship.

President Petro Poroshenko submitted the amendments, called bill No. 8297, on April 19, identifying them as urgent. The amendments will be considered by a Rada committee on May 16 and may be considered by the Rada as early as on May 17.

The legislation was previously promoted by the authorities as being aimed at depriving of their citizenship those who voted in Russia’s fake referendum to annex Ukraine’s Crimea in March 2014.

In fact, it will not apply to those people, but may apply to almost any Ukrainian with dual nationality abroad. The wording of the bill is so vague that its effect may be devastating.

The bill says that “(…) if an adult citizen of Ukraine has used an electoral or other right granted to him by foreign citizenship or has fulfilled the duties that foreign citizenship puts on him, which can be confirmed by the data of the public registers of state bodies or local governments of foreign states, information published on official websites, in official publications by state bodies or bodies of local government and/or documents provided by such bodies, or if he or she (an adult citizen of Ukraine) received or used in Ukraine or during the departure/entry to Ukraine a passport of a foreign state, which has been recorded by an official employee of the State Border Guard of Ukraine or another the state body of Ukraine.”

Bill No. 8297 states that “the acquisition of Russian citizenship due to unlawful … actions on the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the occupation administration of the Russian Federation” will not be classified as the voluntary acquisition of citizenship. Therefore, participation in the sham Russian elections in Kremlin-annexed Crimea it will not be considered as grounds for stripping a person of Ukrainian citizenship.

This is not the first attempt by Poroshenko to deprive of millions of Ukrainian people of Ukrainian citizenship. In March 2017, bill 6175 was submitted by the president to the Verkhovna Rada, but thanks to the efforts of the Ukrainian diaspora and Ukrainian expats, the bill was blocked.

Moreover, Poroshenko has used citizenship legislation as a tool to get rid of his political opponents. Last year, he stripped his vehement critic Mikheil Saakashvili and his ally Sasha Borovik of their Ukrainian citizenship.

The cancellation of their citizenship violated Ukrainian and international law and due process and was politically motivated, according to both Saakashvili’s lawyers and independent ones.

Despite the catastrophic demographic situation in Ukraine, the Ukrainian government continues its attempts to deprive citizenship to a large number of Ukrainian people, without recognizing that today de facto, at least 10 percent of Ukrainians are bi- or multi- national.

In fact, the repeated attempt to pass such legislation seems even more threatening, since this repeated political mistake is interpreted by experts as a conscious desire to deprive of Ukrainian citizenship millions of Ukrainian people who temporarily live abroad, without any understanding of their role and contribution to the development of Ukraine.

Ukrainians who live abroad are the best lobbyists of Ukraine. Moreover, they are de facto the best investors, who support Ukraine financially on their shoulders, as the mythological ancient Greek titans. According to the data of the National Bank and the State Statistics Service, Ukrainians abroad transfer five times more money to their homeland than foreign investors. For example, in 2017, Ukrainian migrants transferred to Ukraine $9.3 billion. By comparison, during the same period, foreign direct investments amounted to $1.8 billion. Financial transfers from Ukrainians abroad are increasing every year ($7 billion in 2015, $7.5 billion in 2016). Thus, the recent relative stability of the national currency has been achieved thanks to the Ukrainians living and working abroad. Meanwhile, due to the fact that about 10 million Ukrainians work abroad, Ukraine has a lower level of unemployment, and their financial transfers reduce the level of poverty in the country.

A careful analysis of international practice shows that the global trend is the opposite to banning multiple citizenship. Since 1960, the global tendency has changed dramatically, and the vast majority of states do not use their laws to automatically deprive people of citizenship. International experience on the multiple citizenship phenomenon shows that 55 percent of countries allow multiple citizenship without restrictions, 19 percent of states allow it with certain limitations, and only 26 percent of countries ban multiple citizenship. These last are mostly the least developed countries of the world.

While Israel and China fight for the rights of their citizens living outside the country, and in Germany or in Canada there are special integration programs, Ukraine prefers not only to forget about foreign Ukrainians, but even to break ties with them, and revoke their Ukrainian passports. In parallel, the Ukrainian authorities do not create opportunities for high-skilled specialists to return to Ukraine, to help in reforming the country, or bring in new, modern attitudes and approaches, or innovations.

“Ukraine needs powerful government managers, especially with experience from successful projects abroad. Therefore, the adoption of these amendments is inadmissible. These amendments will push Ukrainians to renounce to their Ukrainian nationality and will make it impossible to attract the best specialists to state bodies. In fact, this could be qualified as political sabotage against Ukraine,” said Vadym Tryukhan, a Ukrainian political analyst and ex-diplomat.

The most-used political thesis to defend this rigid approach to citizenship is that in this case Ukrainian politicians will not be able to have several passports.

“The authors of such bills seem to completely ignore the risks of loss of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens as a result of adopting these amendments,” says Igor Reshetnyak, an activist of the Ukrainian community in France and Switzerland.

“This is especially critical at time when the population of Ukraine is steadily decreasing. Of course, there are different agents of the Kremlin in Ukraine, but their damage is not in holding several passports, but in their illegal actions. For these actions they should be punished, and in this case the possession of Ukrainian citizenship by these agents only makes it easier to bring them to justice.”

Given that a presidential election will be held next year, the bill looks like an attempt to diminish the electoral rights of Ukrainians living abroad, who may have a different (and sometimes more critical) vision of the actions of the present government.

“As always, the authorities ignore the interests of millions of Ukrainians who live abroad,” says Tamila Karpyk, a representative of Open World Learning in Toronto and an activist of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.

“Rather than anticipating the restoration of electoral constitutional rights and ensuring the full representation of the interests of Ukrainians abroad in the Ukrainian parliament (today there are no deputies from a foreign constituency in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine), the authorities make numerous attempts to curtail their electoral rights.”

Some lawmakers are aware of the need for massive public discussion and a professional approach to public policy, but their voice is poorly heard in the media.

“Citizenship can be neither a free gift nor a tsar’s ‘punishment,’” says Oksana Syroyid, a lawmaker from the Samopomich party and deputy speaker of the Rada.

“In a globalized world, in a context of ‘non-visa regimes’ and negative labor migration, the policy on citizenship needs changes. Citizenship should be seen not only as an identity and privilege of ‘vassalage.’ In any case, changing citizenship policy requires more public consensus rather than arbitrary decisions.”

During the times of Stalin, the Ukrainian intelligentsia and dissidents were eradicated by the Soviet NKVD, and now Poroshenko is making a second attempt to revoke the Ukrainian passports of those Ukrainians who have succeeded in the global world. Will this second attempt be successful?

via Violeta Moskalu: Bill aims to strip Ukrainians living abroad of citizenship | KyivPost

Fewer Americans Renounce Citizenship, But Taxes Still Drive Them

The latest numbers (some debate on Twitter for the reasons):

For the first time in five years, the number of Americans who renounced their citizenship fell slightly in 2017 (5,133) from the previous year (5,411), which had been a record. The total for the first quarter of 2018 was 1,099. In recent years there has been a marked upswing in expatriations, and tax considerations are often at least a part of the equation. Moreover, these published numbers are probably lower than the actual number of those who expatriated. How complete these lists are remains unclear. Despite the official list, many leavers are not counted, and both the IRS and FBI track Americans who renounce

The figures for recent years show an important trend. The total for calendar year 2016 was 5,411, up 26% from 2015, which had 4,279 published expatriates. The 2015 total was 58% more than in 2014. The reasons for renouncing can be family, tax and legal complications, and some renouncers write why they gave up their U.S. citizenship. Expats have long clamored for tax relief. One law motivating some is FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. FATCA has been ramped up worldwide, and requiring an annual Form 8938 filing if your foreign assets meet a threshold.

FATCA was enacted in 2010, and over five years, was painstakingly implemented worldwide by the U.S. Treasury Department. In now spans the globe with an unparalleled network of reporting. America requires foreign banks and governments to hand over secret bank data about depositors. Non-U.S. banks and financial institutions around the world must reveal American account details or risk big penalties. Some renounce because of global tax reporting and FATCA. Dual citizenship is not always possible, as this infographic  shows. America’s global income tax compliance and disclosure laws can be a burden, especially for U.S. persons living abroad. Their American status can make them untouchable by many banks.

Americans living and working abroad must generally report and pay tax where they live. But they must also continue to file taxes in the U.S., where reporting is based on their worldwide income. A foreign tax credit often does not eliminate double taxes. Moreover, enforcement fears are palpable for the annual foreign bank account reports called FBARs. They carry big civil and even potential criminal penalties. The civil penalties alone can consume the entire balance of an account.

Ironically, even leaving America can be costly. America charges $2,350 to hand in your passport, a fee that is more than twenty times the average of other high-income countries. The U.S. hiked the fee to renounce by 422%, as previously there was a $450 fee to renounce, and no fee to relinquish. Now, there is a $2,350 fee either way. The State Department said raising the fee was about demand and paperwork, but the number of American expatriations kept increasing. Moreover, to exit, one generally must prove 5 years of IRS tax compliance. And getting into IRS compliance can be expensive and worrisome. For some, a reason to get into compliance is to renounce.

However, if you have a net worth greater than $2 million, or have average annual net income tax for the 5 previous years of $162,000 or more, you can pay an exit tax. It is a capital gain tax, calculated as if you sold your property when you left. A long-term resident giving up a Green Card can be required to pay the exit tax too. Sometimes, planning and valuations can reduce or eliminate the tax, but the tax worry can be real, even for those who will not face it.

Source: Fewer Americans Renounce Citizenship, But Taxes Still Drive Them

Sadiq Khan: UK citizenship fees leave children in limbo

In Canada, issue is adult fees of $530 (plus $100 right of citizenship). Previous government did not change fees for children ($100 plus $100 for the same right of citizenship):

Children and teenagers born in Britain are being left in limbo without access to education or employment because of £1,000 fees to gain citizenship, Sadiq Khanhas said, saying the government may face another Windrush-style scandal.

The mayor of London said the fees many young people were forced to pay were unacceptably high, given that most had lived most or all of their lives in the UK, but did not officially have British citizenship.

Most of the young people involved came to the UK with their parents as babies or small children, or were born in the UK to parents who migrated here.

Most teenagers do not realise they do not have secure status until they apply for post-18 education and are rejected because they cannot access funding or student loans. Instead, universities will class them as international students, charging them tens of thousands of pounds.

Without settled status, young adults may find themselves unable to rent a home, access healthcare, open bank accounts or start a job, under “hostile environment” restrictions introduced by the government, once they leave full-time education.

More than 159,000 Londoners aged 24 and under were found to be in this position by research from 2007. Khan said he was commissioning research to understand whether the problem had risen since new immigration restrictions came into force over the past decade.

“The recent Windrush scandal has shone a light on an immigration system that is simply unfit for purpose,” Khan said. “These young Londoners have lived most, if not all, of their lives in this country.”

Khan said it was shameful that young people, many born in Britain, found themselves barred from working or learning.

The mayor said the government “profit on their circumstances, despite the amazing contribution they make to our city and our country”.

The government needed to both streamline the application process and waive the “astronomically high” fees to affirm their citizenship, he added.

In April 2018, the cost for a child to register as a British citizen was £1,012 and £1,330 for an adult to naturalise their citizenship. The charity Citizens UK has calculated that much of the fee is profit – about £640 – compared with the £372 administration cost.

Those who were not born in the UK, but were brought to London as young children, face additional immigration fees of £8,521 over a 10-year period.

The executive director of Citizens UK, Neil Jameson, said it was “a huge own goal to deprive young people with bright futures of education when now more than ever Britain needs to extend a hand of welcome”.

The sums can put huge pressures on families who wish to register their children as British citizens, which is possible after a child has been in the country for 10 years. Some parents may still have uncertain immigration status, with no right to work and no recourse to public funds, meaning they can be effectively destitute.

…A Home Office spokeswoman said the fees took into account the wider costs of running the immigration system, saying it was “funded by those who benefit from it” in order to reduce taxpayer expense.

“There are exceptions to visa application fees to protect the most vulnerable, such as for young people who are in the care of a local authority,” she added.

Source: Sadiq Khan: UK citizenship fees leave children in limbo

Unsurprising that stricter Danish rules give fewer Muslims citizenship: immigration minister

Frank and direct:
Denmark’s minister for immigration Inger Støjberg says she is not surprised that fewer Muslims have been approved for Danish citizenship since the government introduced stricter rules in 2015.

According to research carried out by newspaper Politiken, 70 percent of new Danish citizenships in 2014 were to people from primarily Muslim countries. That figure has fallen drastically to 21 percent this year.

In the same period, Denmark has begun to allow double citizenship, increasingly the likelihood of nationalisation applications from Western countries.

Støjberg said the figures show that the curbs, which her ministry was responsible for implementing, have had the desired effect.

“There is no doubt that this is because the demands have been increased. For example, the language requirement, being able to provide for oneself, staying away from criminality and passing certain tests,” she said.

“In my view there is no doubt at all that it is much easier to integrate a Christian American than a Muslim Somali,” Støjberg said.

The citizenship rules introduced in 2015 by the then-Liberal government with the support of Denmark’s other right wing parties included more stringent language demands, financial autonomy, a higher score in the citizenship test and stricter rules relating to criminal records.

“It is clear that if you come from other parts of the world, you have to exert yourself somewhat harder to, for example, learn the language,” Støjberg said.

She added she would begin talks over potential further curbs in the coming week.

“I have tightened up [on citizenship] once, and a new set of curbs is now on its way. People that have committed gang crime must not be allowed citizenship,” she said.

“The aim of tough rules is to make Danish citizenship something to strive for,” she added.

Source: Unsurprising that stricter Danish rules give fewer Muslims citizenship: immigration minister

Australia: Citizenship inquiry to recommend referendum, which Turnbull rejects

Although I believe that s. 44 of the Australian constitution is a historic anachronism, holding a referendum would be  high risk and divisive:

Malcolm Turnbull has given a strong indication that the government will oppose a referendum to fix the citizenship crisis, arguing they are hard to win and that aspiring politicians should “get their act together” and renounce foreign citizenship instead.

The prime minister’s opposition to a referendum puts him at odds with the Liberal senator Linda Reynolds, who has spearheaded a six-month inquiry into section 44 of the constitution. She believes there are “no easy options” to fix the crisis and a referendum is needed to reform or repeal the “profoundly undemocratic” section.

Guardian Australia understands that the joint standing committee on electoral matters will meet to finalise its report on Friday and will lay out a series of options – all of which involve a referendum.

These include options to remove section 44 entirely, to replace the ban on foreign citizens with a requirement for parliamentarians to swear an oath of allegiance, or to allow parliament to set the disqualifications in legislation, not the constitution. The overwhelming weight of evidence to the committee supported constitutional change.

It is understood that the government is keen to make only administrative changes – such as improved disclosure or new Australian Electoral Commission powers to check compliance – but these options are not supported by the electoral committee.

On Thursday the Labor leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, reiterated that a section 44 referendum was not a priority for Labor, citing the need to make other constitutional changes first.

The high court decided to disqualify the Labor senator Katy Gallagher on Wednesday, triggering the resignation of four MPs – including three Labor MPs – over dual-citizenship issues.

Turnbull told ABC’s AM that the high court’s decision meant “you have got to get your act together before you nominate”. He noted that most of the cases had been dual citizens with UK citizenship, which he said was “very straightforward” and “not complex” to renounce.

Pressed on whether Australia should have a referendum on section 44, Turnbull said the government had put forward its preferred interpretation of the disqualification of dual citizens in the “citizenship seven” case last year but the high court had not accepted it.

In that case, the commonwealth argued that parliamentarians who were unaware of their dual citizenship could not have allegiance to a foreign power but the court held that the section barred all foreign citizens.

Turnbull said changing the constitution “is very hard and [it’s] very hard to get support for [a referendum]”.

“So I think the best advice, given that the election will be next year, is for everyone to get their act together and make sure they are not a citizen of anywhere else before they nominate.”

Turnbull played down expectations that the Coalition could win seats in byelections to be held in Fremantle (Western Australia), Braddon (Tasmania), Mayo (South Australia) and Longman (Queensland), arguing that “byelections are always tough for the government”.

He said it would be up to state divisions to decide whether to run candidates in those seats but the Liberal party believed in fighting for government.

Turnbull said the byelections were “a test for Bill Shorten” who had failed to take responsibility for the Labor MPs’ refusal to resign after the Matt Canavan decisionset the test for dual citizens in October.

On Wednesday Shorten refused to apologise for allowing his MPs to sit in parliament while ineligible, citing the fact they had relied in “good faith” on legal advice.

On Thursday the manager of opposition business, Tony Burke, offered that Labor was “sorry it has turned out this way” while Wong told ABC Radio National: “We regret voters are put to the inconvenience and cost of byelections.”

In reference to warnings from academics that, after the Canavan decision, “reasonable steps” to renounce were not sufficient, Wong said “lawyers say a lot of things” and Labor had acted on its advice.

She said the test for dual citizens was strict but Labor would rather have referendums on Indigenous recognition in the constitution and other “more important issues”.

“Parties just now have to apply the high court decision to their processes,” she said.

Before the Gallagher decision, Linda Reynolds, the chair of the joint standing committee on electoral matters, said her view was “the evidence to the committee is the only way these problems will stop is via a referendum”.

The deputy chair of the joint standing committee on electoral matters, the Labor MP Andrew Giles, said the uncertainty about eligibility “can’t continue” as it was “compounding frustrations with the state of politics today”.

“It’s a collective responsibility to resolve this uncertainty, and also to make sure that all Australians can have their say in what restrictions should apply to running for election to our national parliament.”

Source: Citizenship inquiry to recommend referendum, which Turnbull rejects

Australia’s Dual-Citizenship Contagion Claims 5 More Politicians

The latest numbers. Unfortunately, a constitutional change is unlikely given the high barrier (a referendum) needed:

Four Australian members of Parliament resigned Wednesday after revealing they held dual citizenship, bringing the number of lawmakers forced to vacate their seats because of split national loyalties to 15 in less than a year.

The resignations came hours after the High Court ruled on Wednesday that another politician, Senator Katy Gallagher, a member of the Labor Party, was ineligible to remain in Parliament because she had not renounced her British citizenship before her election.

That decision prompted three other Labor members of Parliament — Justine Keay, Josh Wilson and Susan Lamb — and a member of the Centre Alliance, Rebekha Sharkie, to resign.

Section 44 of Australia’s Constitution bars anyone holding dual citizenship from running for office. Despite the clarity of the law, more than a dozen lawmakers, including a former deputy prime minister, have been found to hold dual citizenship in the past year, prompting their resignations.

The discoveries of lawmakers — sometimes unknowingly — holding dual citizenship has been likened to a virus spreading through Parliament, picking off members month after month. The contagion has affected politicians across the political spectrum, including two deputy Green party leaders and Barnaby Joyce, the former deputy prime minister and National Party leader. (Mr. Joyce would win back his seat only to later resign his post after a sex scandal.)

Senator Gallagher had argued that she should remain in Parliament because she took steps to renounce her British citizenship before the election but was delayed because of paperwork. The court rejected that argument.

The four politicians who resigned said they would contest their seats in by-elections that are expected to be held next month. The court ordered a special recount to fill Ms. Gallagher’s seat.

Among the previous resignations were dual citizens of Italy, Canada and New Zealand. Most of the politicians laid low by the scandal were dual citizens of Britain.

In the wake of the latest resignations, Larissa Waters, former Greens deputy leader and one of the first ousted in the crisis, took to Twitter.

“Go home section 44, you’re drunk,” she wrote.