Migrants must not be used as a political football

Snap general election on the cards

GMT 18:15 Tuesday ,18 April 2017

 Migrant Voice - Snap general election on the cards

MV

As a surprise general election approaches, migrants must not become a political football.

 

Some will use this election to call for tougher border controls, more detention centres, and more money spent on locking people up rather than helping people. There is too much at stake to give in to such rhetoric - and it does not represent the fair-minded, compassionate majority in this country.

 

Over the past years, it has become all too common to see migrants attacked, scapegoated and used as pawns in political agendas, while being denied the opportunity to tell our side of the story. "Swarms", "cockroaches" and similar abuse have become everyday terms used by headline writers against some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

 

But during Brexit, political instability and choppy economic waters, it is more important than ever to recognise the value migration brings. Migrant labour props up our health service (just this week a plan to bring in refugee doctors to plug staff shortages was announced), props up our national infrastructure, and adds to the pool of skills and talent that make us a world-leading economy, bringing in billions every year. Migrant communities bring new culture - whether art, literature or food - that all can share in. And migrants and citizens across Britain are part of the same workplaces, schools, friendship groups and families.

 

There will always be people whose skills and contribution Britain needs, and there will always be people who need and deserve the help that the world's sixth wealthiest country can render. There does not have to be a competition about who gets to the front of the queue - for too long migrants and citizens in left-behind communities have been forced to engage in a race to the bottom. But when communities are properly supported and resourced, we all benefit.

 

This democratic exercise we are about to have can show Britain at its best - open, welcoming, and cherishing the people and communities that make up the rich fabric of our social and public life.

 

This election, let’s reject division and intolerance, and stand up for a better society which treats all with equal concern and respect.

 
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