Staff writer Maria Malik on how the COVID-19 pandemic exposes fallacies in anti-immigrant economic rhetoric in Britain.
We have witnessed exactly how vital immigrants are to our society in recent months, so why is the Government so hell-bent on forcing through a Bill to change our immigration policies and make life harder for them?
The discourse around immigration has centred around the economic contribution of immigrants to the nation, overlooking all else. However, it is important to note that immigrants generate capital and pay their share of taxes – which is more than can be said of huge corporations in the country.
The difference is that the place of these corporations in the U.K is never questioned; neither are the economic impacts of their existence debated on national news or political parties created to advocate for them being ‘thrown out’.
Xenophobic discourse tries to convince the population that their doctors, nurses, transport workers, and more, are ‘taking British jobs’ and pose the threat of completely ‘taking over’. In reality, these immigrant workers have more in common with the average British citizen than the ones spouting this kind of hatred like ex-banker Nigel Farage.
Immigrants are persecuted in the media for ‘taking more money from the system than they contribute’, which is incredibly ironic coming from a country that once drove the economies of its colonies into the ground by looting them for resources. One such example is that of how India went from a 24.4% share of the world economy in 1700 to 4.2% in 1950.
But, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, the utility of immigrants to the U.K extends far beyond their financial contributions. So many have lost their lives fighting disease on the front-line and caring for those that had contracted it. The Health Foundation reports “In June 2019, 13.3% of NHS staff in hospitals and community services in England reported a non-British nationality. Among doctors, the proportion is 28.4%.”
We are incredibly lucky to have such a diverse healthcare service, who work around the clock to provide award-winning treatment, whilst being underfunded and underpaid. Yet, their contribution is still questioned by those who do comparatively less for the country they claim to love and be so concerned for.
You would think that offering your life to serving a country would be sufficient to encourage people to see your dedication to it. Quite the contrary – the Conservative Government seem unwavering in their plans to push through a bill the Home Secretary says will make the immigration system “firmer, fairer and simpler.”
I struggle to see what is ‘fairer’ about an immigration system that sends the message that ‘unskilled’ jobs are less valuable than skilled jobs when those in unskilled work are also considered to be key workers. If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is that our country would come to a complete standstill were it not for these unskilled workers – care assistants and cleaners. No work should be considered unskilled.
The truth is, we shouldn’t be asking what immigrants can do for our country, but what our country did to them.
It is absolutely imperative that education on the reality of the Empire is made a mandatory part of the curriculum and also that we are made aware of the significance of immigrants in building and rebuilding this country.
The Conservatives have released a survey asking for public opinion on their proposed Immigration Bill. Tell them exactly what you think of their unjust plans by filling out this survey and stand up for those who have stood up for you.