Speaking for Ourselves

Editorial: Stop scapegoating migrants

Editorial: Stop scapegoating migrants


 Migrant Voice - Editorial: Stop scapegoating migrants

This Government continues to treat migrants as a problem and panders to the unfounded fears of a minority of the British public, fears created and stoked by successive governments in a bid to win votes. This was made clear in the policy statement on the UK's future points-based immigration system, published on 19 February 2020.

The Government must stop presenting certain groups of migrants as problems that need to be solved and instead openly acknowledge the value – economic, social and cultural – that migrants bring to the UK.

They claim that the new system will be in the best interests of the British people. But how can this be, when this system will make our communities financially, socially and culturally poorer?

Those deemed “lower skilled” will be shut out, despite offering essential skills that our economy needs, skills that the construction, care, agriculture, hospitality and countless other sectors are crying out for.

You simply can’t run an economy only with so-called “highly skilled” workers – scientists, engineers and so on. Countless vital jobs in this country pay a salary of less than £25,600 and there are many migrants willing to do those jobs. Low wage does not mean low skill – and neither means low value. But these proposals leave those people currently doing these jobs feeling unwelcome and unvalued.

Furthermore, under a system that prizes English abilities and high-level qualifications, and does not allow for part-time work, those who will qualify are likely to be disproportionately male and from developed, Western countries – a further significant problem. Studies show that points-based systems are inherently racially, gender and age biased – a dangerous route for any country to take, posing a threat to values of inclusion and diversity, and diminishing the creativity and richness that come with diverse communities.

By doubling down on narratives that cast certain types of migration as a problem and migrants as a hindrance, this Government will struggle to attract even “the best and brightest” as they choose to seek work in countries with a more welcoming stance.

We want to see a work-based immigration system that doesn’t gatekeep based on any particular number, but is instead guided by the jobs and workers available. Such a system should be led by employers – it should not be this or any Government deciding which attributes are desirable or what salary or level of English is acceptable.

But more than this, we want to see an end to language that scapegoats migrants, and an end to crude assessments of migrants’ “value”, whether that’s a salary threshold or a points target. We want to see a system that recognises that a person’s value to this society goes far beyond their earnings, one that celebrates and protects the richness that comes from the UK’s diverse communities.


TOP IMAGE: Westminster, Chris Bird, Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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