What's the BOTC Campaign all about?
Our campaign was founded in 2010 by Trent Lamont Miller, an Actor and his British partner, who lives in New York.
Trent's mother is American, and his father was born in the former British Colony, now a British overseas territory called Montserrat. His parents never married.
In 2010, Trent sought to be recognized as a British and British Overseas Territory by descent through his father. His father, born in Montserrat, a former British colony, was a Citizen of the United Kingdom and its Colonies (CUKC), later becoming a British Dependent Territories citizen (BDTC) and, in 2002, British Overseas Territories citizen (BOTC.)
Before moving to the USA, His father had lived and worked in the UK in the 1960s. At that time, people deemed Commonwealth citizens could do this unhindered until the early 1970s when the UK Government introduced strict immigration controls to control the flow of immigrants.
In 2002, upon introducing the British Overseas Territories Act, all citizens of British overseas dependent territories were given full British citizenship rights, which means the ability to live and work in mainland UK without restriction. They finally became part of the UK family.
When Trent researched the process of applying for citizenship by descent with the Home Office (the authority responsible for regulating British nationality law), he hit a roadblock.
He learned that:
Children born abroad, outside of marriage before 1 July 2006 to British (mainland) fathers, could not inherit their father's British citizenship.
Children born abroad, outside of marriage before 1 July 2006 to British Overseas Territories fathers, could not inherit their father's British Overseas Territories and British citizenship.
Children born overseas to British overseas territories mothers (married and unmarried) before 1 January 1983 were denied the right to claim their mother's citizenship.
These remaining pockets of discrimination impacted children of descent from all British Overseas Territories: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Overseas Territory ("BIOT"), British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland South Georgia Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, St. Helena, Ascension & Tristan da Cunha, & Turks and Caicos Islands.
So Trent and his partner, Dave, dedicated themselves to campaigning to remove this discrimination in British nationality law.
In 2011, they connected with another British nationality campaigner, Tabitha Sprague, who also lives in New York. As shown in the first bullet point above, Tabitha attempted to get the UK government to remove the discrimination against mainland UK fathers and their children. She was unaware that the same discrimination was against British Overseas Territories parents and their children. Consequently, we joined forces and collaborated. Key supporters inside the House of Lords, the late Lord Eric Avebury and Baroness Ruth Lister, took up the fight to change the law.
In 2014, after much campaigning by Tabitha with Lord Avebury's and Baroness Lister's help, the Government chose to amend the law (section 65 Immigration Act 2014) to allow children born outside of marriage to only British mainland-born fathers and their children.
The result: Tabitha and Trent, two children born under the same circumstances, with fathers born on British soil, would be treated unequally.
Despite efforts by Lord Avebury to include the British overseas territories, regrettably, the Government did not extend these same rights to other categories of British citizenship. Consequently, nationality law remained unequal and unbalanced—a further political solution involved consultation between the Home Office and the governments of the British overseas territories needed to take place. The UK government promised to look for opportunities to do this, but they dragged their feet for over seven years.
Trent and Dave did not give up. They persisted in pushing, using social media, and writing letters to people in power. Their determination paid off. In 2019, the British Government published a policy paper and committed to a consultation to correct the remaining two pockets of discrimination in the next parliamentary session. They included additional legislation to help children who are discriminated against.
In 2020, the UK Government agreed to amend the law further to include us in the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, remedying our discrimination. Our amendments (clauses 1, 2 & 4) can be found at this link:
Later on, as their legislation was going through the final stages in the UK Parliament, they became aware of a significant group of children who were indigenous descendants of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of the British Indian Overseas Territory (BIOT) that formed the Chagos Archipelago. They were being denied citizenship by descent. Trent and Dave offered to help the various Chagossian campaign groups to try and get them included in their legislation. They played a crucial role in connecting people and sharing their campaigning experience, helping progress their inclusion in the legislation. They collaborated with independent Chagossian of descent advocates Rosy Leveque and Jerome Simon and groups like Chagossian Voices.
Both believed this was an excellent opportunity to have the Chagossian children of descent added to the Nationality and Borders Bill. The history of the British Indian Overseas Territory (BIOT) Chagos Islands is unfortunate. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it involved the forcible removal of their descendants from their islands to Mauritius and Seychelles to make way for a US Military Airbase. As a result, most of the children of descent lost their right to British nationality.
We are pleased to report that the Chagossian children of descent were added to clause #3 of the bill through their combined determined efforts.
So much good has come from this campaign. Trent, Dave, Tabitha, Rosy, and here fellow Chagossians campaigners realize that many thousands of children's and adults' lives have been changed as they now have opportunities to expand their lives and finally belong. No longer feeling cast out and unheard.
You can find further information about the Chagossians at these links: