Speaking for Ourselves

We are all shaped by Migration. We should celebrate that

We are all shaped by Migration. We should celebrate that


 Migrant Voice - We are all shaped by Migration. We should celebrate that

Today, 18 December we at Migrant Voice have been celebrating International Migrants Day, along with more than 250 million migrants across the world, sharing their contributions and successes, but also standing in solidarity with the challenges some of them face.

Migration has always been a part of the shared history of humanity, every nation in the world would not be here today without migrants. Our country is a story of migration, it has shaped our history, culture and people to reflect the values and customs we hold dear today. Whether it be through those who have migrated in search of work, to reunite with loved ones, to study, or to escape conflict, persecution and the adverse effects of climate change.

Yet ‘migration’ and ‘migrants’ have been a common scapegoat for hostile rhetoric across the world, and our own country is no exception. Attitudes towards migration have always been used to target disparate groups of people, from different cultures or backgrounds. As a result, cruel and growing inhumane policies are intensifying, limiting the rights of migrants within our society.

In November, the UK Supreme Court ruled against this Government's plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, having been found to violate fundamental human rights. The government intends to overrule the decision from our highest Court, disapplying the human rights that we all share. They are determined to forcibly send some of the world's most vulnerable to a country across the world, no matter the cost.

In October, the Government increased various visa rates by 15-20%, and in the New Year, the Immigration Health Surcharge is set to increase by 66%. Extortionate visa fees are destroying thousands of lives every year. At soon to be over £3,600 per person every two and a half years to renew their visa, many families find themselves in poverty, and those who cannot pay are at risk of losing their status. Our study found families paying up to £50,000 for their status, with 95% saying it had effects on their well-being and mental health.

The government plans to dramatically raise income thresholds for visas to £38,700. These plans will not only exacerbate the structural and systemic barriers migrants face when arriving, but will now risk affecting those already here, many of whom are already at risk of destitution, limiting which family members they can bring, and who they choose to marry. Many British citizens will also lose the opportunity to find love abroad and reunite with their families.

Many migrant workers are often in temporary, informal, or unprotected jobs, without adequate knowledge or understanding of labour laws and contracts, exposing them to a greater risk of insecurity, layoffs, and poor working conditions. The government's visa scheme to fill 164,000 social care vacancies has forced thousands of migrants into cycles of debt and exploitation. We have seen an increase in 606% of modern slavery cases in our healthcare system. 

As an organisation, our very purpose is to ensure that migrants have their voice. Every migrant has a story to share and a voice that needs to be heard. Migrants and migration remain on the firing line with everyone having an opinion broadcasted throughout the world, but we are missing the most important voice of all.

And that is a voice that needs to be shared. Our recent Putting Ourselves in the Picture exhibition at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum, and our Welcome Project exhibition in London showcased migrants' stories and journeys, of welcome, belonging and hope. The stories that matter to the world. Migrants from all walks of life came together across the country on our National Day of Action against Visa Fees, where we sent a clear message against the hostile settlement system currently in place, demanding a more just system, one that works for everyone.

This International Migrants Day should be a moment for the government to rethink its whole approach to migration. Rather than seeing migrants as having fewer rights than others, we should be looking at how we protect the rights of everyone. We need safe and legal channels for those looking for sanctuary on our shores, and accessible and affordable routes for those who want to work and live here. We must stop seeing migrants as scapegoats and statistics, and instead as integral members of our communities.

Since the time of the Romans through to the Saxons, from the Normans to Britain today, our country has been home, has been harbour, to those fleeing famine and disaster, but also to those seeking to build new lives, families and memories. We are a nation of migrants, the past, present, and future, our collective story is the story of migration. And the United Kingdom should be its home because it has always been.

Borders are no longer means of separation, but bridges. As the nation of migrants, we paved the way, but find ourselves pulling up the ropes behind us, and we all end up falling. We cannot let hostile rhetoric and political gesturing blind us to our common humanity for one another; we are obliged and bound to act, which is something we should never forget.

Get in touch

Migrant Voice
VAI, 200a Pentonville Road,
N1 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

Registered Charity
Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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