Can We Have An Intelligent Debate On Migration?

Can We Have An Intelligent Debate On Migration?

MOVED ALONG: African migrants from Sudan and Eritrea are forcibly removed by Italian police from their camp

“We are here because you were there” is the apt response given to the xenophobic reaction to immigration in Britain. The truth is that most people migrating to Britain have an affinity with the Motherland that had presided over the ‘Empire on which the sun never sets’ spanning from the East to the West.

In the months and weeks leading up to this migration crisis, Britain has been awash with political talk about the need to control immigration and several pejorative references have been made about migrants: they are benefit cheats, they are taking our jobs, they are changing the diversity and character of villages and towns and anything that can, has been hurled against them.

All the political parties are at it, even the Liberal Democrats and, surprisingly, Labour whose former leader – the son of an immigrant – had carved into his 10-foot stone commandments that he would control immigration and even had the coffee mug made to prove it.

All this talk has come about because of the fear that they needed to get the votes of UKIP sympathisers. Last year, the home secretary had caused vans to be sent around warning about what would happen to illegal immigrants and soon after the elections there was talk of penalising landlords for letting property to illegal immigrants.

University students have also been threatened that they would not be allowed to work in Britain and would be sent back to their countries of origin after graduation even before they can attend their convocations.

And yet when politicians make these statements and suggest that there needs to be an intelligent discussion on immigration, all we get is the same media-influenced reactions, bunching genuine with failed asylum seekers, mixing refugees with economic migrants and suggesting that those who have been migrants here for several years are also somehow in the mix and the cause of all the problems in Britain.

All it took for the position of politicians to unravel was the sight of defiant refugees refusing to be accepted in the reception and detention centres in Hungary, having a standoff with the police after invading the train stations and then deciding to walk across to Austria to their preferred choice of Germany.

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