There has always been a lot of negative press about the flood of immigrants into the UK and how they are “stealing all the jobs” from the British citizens. When I first arrived in Scotland, I often heard about how immigrants were to blame for British people not having jobs. Ten years since I arrived in the UK, the current election campaigns are still going on about how immigration will be spiralling out of control. It’s spurred on by the negative, hateful view of people like Katie Hopkins, who last week suggested gun-boats should be sent out to meet the thousands of refugees who have drowned in the Meditaranian, to ensure the survivors don’t ever make it to Britain. Except this year, a new campaign is combatting the unjust attacks.
This crowd-sourced campaign has generated a lot of interest and has inspired many people to show that they are more than begging, job-stealing immigrants. Fun fact, research has shown that immigrants are 60% less likely to claim benefit and 58% less likely to live in council housing than British-born citizens.
I’m an immigrant too – I may be white like many Brits and speak English as my first language, but I was born and raised in Africa. My family was forced to leave our home in Zimbabwe to ensure our safety. We are refugees. We trialled America for eighteen months before I ended up moving to Scotland. I have never been treated or viewed as an immigrant and people will often brush my comments aside when I defend immigrants and point out my connection to them.
In the past few TV election debates between party leaders, we’ve seen the leader of the UKIP, Nigel Farage, declare that we need to significantly cut immigration and solve the UK deficit by cutting foreign aid. Granted, he believes immigrants like me are the number one cause of all the UK’s problems. But present Farage with any real immigrant and like most others, he becomes tongue-tied, making his excuses. It the age old message of “I hate immigrants, oh but you’re all right.”
I’m white and my accent is not too unusual. So in many people’s eyes, I’m not your typical immigrant, I am forgiven. But, I am an immigrant. I don’t beg for hand-outs, I graduated from the University of Dundee and am working as a Project Manager in a large technology company. Like any working person in the UK, I pay taxes and contribute to the British economy. I shop at charity shops and donate to charity. You’d struggle to tell me apart from your native Brit but I am an immigrant along with those unfortunate people who are forced to endure the abuse from many people in the UK who cannot accept them, and the role they play in our country.
With the upcoming election, perhaps those among us who hate immigration so much, will begin to see that immigration isn’t all people begging for handouts. Perhaps they will realise that just because we have had to relocate, or chosen a new home, doesn’t mean we are not willing to give back. Pro-immigration campaigns are working on combatting this view. Perhaps with a new, more progressive government, the negative view of immigration and the people it brings, will finally begin to subside.