Reflections on the Migrant Voice annual conference by Migrant Voice Birmingham network member, the journalist Selbin Kabote.
More emphasis should be placed on debating issues related to strategies that should be adopted in an effort to strengthen the British economy and to employment creation and not on migration, Sarah Teather has said.
The Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Brent Central said it appears when things get difficult, the button is pushed and the blame for economic difficulties is placed on migrates. Sarah Teather said what should be taken note of is the contribution that migrants have made to the British economy.
Speaking at the third “Migrant Voice” annual conference in London, the member of parliament said to the contrary they are many people for example in her constituency, whose lives have been adversely affected by the long periods that they have to wait for the Home Office to make decisions on their immigration cases.
Contributing to the debate on immigration at the conference, Dr Jairo Lugo-Ocando, a Journalism academic at Sheffield University said policies on immigration are always being put forward by British political parties, because they are an easy issue or agenda to pursue. The academic said immigration is a phenomenon which is very difficult to monitor the world over. Dr Jairo Lugo-Ocando said although there about 2.5 million refugees in Pakistan, however the Pakistan government is making no fuss about this.
On the recent call by the government on landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants, Jean Lambert, MEP for the Green Party said the checks would only succeed in making vulnerable people more vulnerable. Jean Lambert added that landlords should not be given the responsibility of controlling immigration.
A Professor of Migration and Citizenship, Bridget Anderson told the conference that when approaching the debate on migration, there is need to create some clarity by asking the question: who is a migrant? Is a Canadian for example a migrant, or is a migrant an Indian or an African or is it a political identity? Professor Anderson said the stigma that seems to be associated with the word migrant needs to be addressed. She said there is also a need to expand the debate on immigration in an effort to show for example how the recent changes to family reunion laws have also affected British citizens.
Some delegates at the conference said it is important for the immigration debate to focus on the issue of global citizenship in an effort to avoid the us and them mentality, as well as the negative idea of encouraging citizens to police each other.
On BBC One’s Question Time recently, David Davis, the Tory former shadow Home Secretary, criticised Coalition plans to require GPs to check the immigration status of patients as “very unwise”. He said “when we take on immigration policy, it should be fair and civilized” adding that the NHS was not a “pull factor” for migrants from Bulgaria and Romania. He added that it was comparatively high wages that would be a main attraction, once border restrictions are lifted at the end of this year.
The theme of the third annual Migrant Voice conference was: The immigration debate; the rhetoric and the voices; initiating an inclusive debate and raising alternative voices and messages.
For more information about the Migrant Voice Third annual conference: http://migrantvoice.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=361:migrant-voice-third-annual-conference&catid=44:uk-work