Before you start reading, I should let you know that this post shares some of my personal views about a political situation in the UK. It’s not directly ELT-related. I hope you’ll still read it anyway.
Trigger warnings for: immigration, violence, xenophobia, racism
What happened to spark this post
Over the weekend, a ‘migrant centre’ that is fifteen minutes down the road from my home in south east England was attacked with petrol bombs.
Earlier this week, the British Home Secretary used the term ‘invasion’ to describe the arrival of people seeking refuge in the UK.
This word echoes the language that has been used by some of the British press over the last twenty or so years to demonize people seeking refuge and immigrants.
Obviously, the government and the press is not responsible for the attack. But in my opinion, it’s unsurprising that attacks like this happen when the UK government is sending the message it’s sending.
Why it matters to me
I find all kinds of injustice disturbing– it’s probably why I do the job I do – but immigration really hits me on a personal level.
Two of my grandparents were immigrants to the UK. They settled here, contributed to the country, and had a family that continues to contribute positively to the country both socially and economically.
I think my story is probably similar for a lot of families. That’s why the narrative peddled by some newspapers of people coming here to ‘take, take, take’ rings so untrue for me. It’s also why I feel like I have to write this post.
So, what’s the solution?
I’m honestly not sure. The debate around immigration in the UK is so damagingly polarised that we seem to be shouting at each other from two sides of a divide. And, let’s be honest, that’s not getting us anywhere.
My best guess at fixing this is one that’s a solution for many issues: compassion, meaningful discussion, and sharing accurate, impartial information.
It wouldn’t hurt to tackle the issues that immigrants are scapegoated with too: poverty, unemployment, lack of services and so on.
Maybe I’m wrong but I have to believe this is fixable. I don’t have the power alone to change the way the UK government and press behave, but I can use this blog to share my thoughts.
If you’re still reading, there’s a strong chance that you agree with me, at least in part. But if you don’t and you’d like to learn more, I’ve provided some links below. And if you want to reach out and discuss this, *feel free to PM me.
Let’s change the conversation about immigration.
*(To be clear, I’m not inviting racist and xenophobic hate mail.)
Facts about asylum seekers: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/information/refugee-asylum-facts/the-truth-about-asylum/
Definitions: asylum seekers, refuges and migrants https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/#:~:text=Who%20is%20a%20migrant%3F,not%20asylum%20seekers%20or%20refugees.
The world’s refugees in numbers: https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/global-refugee-crisis-statistics-and-facts/
Refugee facts and figures: https://www.redcross.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/how-we-support-refugees/find-out-about-refugees
Asylum in the UK, information: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/asylum-in-the-uk.html