Is immigration a dirty word?

by Rhea Turner

Immigration is the word on everybody’s lips as politicians step up once again for the General Election. Promises to cap immigration and save the country dominate the headlines, but is addressing the issue of immigration negative or necessary?

Rhea Turner took to the streets of Leicester to speak to the people that matter, the voters, to find out their thoughts on immigration.

Joanne Jordan, 25, is a child care worker from Leicester. She believes that immigration is not problematic but beneficial to Britain, she blames politicians and the media for stigmas surrounding immigrants and thinks that the public should be more educated on the topic instead of pointing fingers of blame.

She said: “I don’t think that immigration is a problem in this country and I don’t think that putting a cap on immigration is a good idea, it will probably cause more issues and make migrants more of a target for people’s ignorance.”

She believes that migrants are represented negatively by the media and are painted as people who steal jobs, scrounge off the welfare system, and cause trouble.

She said: “I think Immigration policies are used to enrage the working class in order to make them feel hard done to, and give them someone to blame. Most people form their opinions on immigration based on what they see in the news, which tends to be negative and exaggerated. But statistics show that immigration is beneficial to the country, in moderation.”

Joanne believes that by addressing the topic, politicians create a smoke screen that manipulates voters. She said: “They (politicians) incite and encourage anger in the working class so that they have someone to blame for the impact of their own policies. It is actually the politicians who cut public spending and do not increase the working wage to the living wage but it is easier for people to believe and blame ‘foreigners’ for taking jobs and claiming benefits. The general public are not well informed on the matter and if they were they would realise that immigration actually generates more income in this country than it costs.”

Joanne praises cities like Leicester for their multicultural ethic insisting that they are a credit to Britain. “I think Leicester offers culture, understanding and empathy. It also allows people to teach the younger generation that we are all people and we are all the same, unfortunately not everybody has that attitude.”

“Immigration has proven to benefit the country in many ways. It brings in various skill sets to the country and increases the diversity of our communities. It allows us to learn about and appreciate other cultures whilst expanding and improving our own.”

Pedro Rosa, 29, moved to Leicester from Portugal five years ago. He currently works as a barman whilst studying for an accounting degree. He believes that Immigration is a social issue perpetuated by negative representations from the media and political parties and would consider a cap on immigration to be advantageous from a social perspective, but detrimental economically.

He said, “Research shows that immigration has minimal effects on issues such as unemployment, wages, health and social services. In 2011 only 7% of migrants claimed benefits, in comparison to the 17% of British nationals that claimed benefits during the same period. However when migration increased 35% in 2005, media coverage increased over 300%, showing the disparity of the representation of fact vs social concern.”

Pedro also believes that politicians use immigration as a strategy to detract from the real issues.

“In times of depression people look for something to blame, and the poor people that come to the UK to escape poverty, hunger and persecution, are, by consensus of opinion of the majority of the British people, in fact to blame for a global recession affecting everyone.

The politician’s agenda is to win votes by siding with public opinion, and not to educate people about the facts of immigration. It is easy to maintain the eye of the public on such issue, whilst swiftly decreasing taxes for the richer and cutting benefits for the poorer. It’s a “magic trick”, look over here, don’t pay attention to what is happening over there.”

Pedro insists that the topic needs to be addressed as an educational process rather than an issue which needs to be resolved. He said: “Politicians treat it as an issue when they know that it’s not the size that they depict it to be. There are more positive aspects to immigration than negatives, but the positives are rarely spoken of.”

Despite recently admitting that Immigration is out of control, Prime Minister David Cameron insists that Immigration is critical to Britain’s success. Speaking to the Daily Express he said: “I’m proud that this is a country where people can arrive with nothing and make something of their lives through sheer hard work, and enabling some of the brightest from around the world to come here is critical to our economy. If we simply closed the door to immigration, it would have a damaging impact on British jobs and livelihoods.”

Recent studies found that Leicester’s migrant population has increased by 71.7 % from 64,560 to 110,843 in 10 years. Despite the challenges immigration brings, Leicester is a city that pays homage to different walks of life and welcomes people from all over the world.

Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva,Senior Researcher of the Census project, told the Leicester Mercury: “Leicester is interesting in many ways. We expected it to be an important destination for immigrants to the country, but what we found is it is also much more diverse than most other areas. People come to Leicester from all over the world.”

There may be implications due to the amount of migrants coming into the country but without them the country would crumble.

Maybe it is time that the politicians acknowledge how migrants make Great Britain great…but for now the future is in the voters’ hands.

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