Immigration: Not Quite What You Thought? Nor Me
About a year ago I was in a job that brought me into contact with many different members of the public, including asylum seeking families and refugees. Because of that I asked to attend a course to learn more about the asylum process. I expected to learn facts about the policies and procedures in place and hoped they would help me to do my job. I didn’t expect that the course would change my way of thinking considerably.
As well as an overview of the process, the course covered much more, most of which you won’t read about in the news. Whilst many newspapers print horror stories about immigration, you seldom read about the darker side to it. The fact that the benefits received are set at just 70% of the minimum the government feels a person needs to live on. The fact that the council housing supplied is often the housing that lies empty because everyone else has refused to take it. The fact that immigrants are not the ‘money-grubbing’ people they are portrayed to be by the media but often highly intelligent people who held good jobs at home but who have been driven in desperation towards this new life. There seems to be some suggested link in the media that if you are an asylum seeker you are suddenly lacking in morals and ‘out for what you can get’. So why am I reading a quote from a man who lives on Smart Price Custard Creams from the supermarket? He says they are cheap and he can fill himself up with a packet for just 19p – but his teeth have started to rot.
These are all things I was faced with when I attended that course and which opened my eyes considerably. I know immigration is a concern to people but that’s why it’s so important to talk about it – let’s clear up the myths and talk about where we go from here. And when newspapers next flash headlines about the number of illegal immigrants, ask yourself how desperate you would have to be to move to a new country, with a new language and different customs, leaving behind family, friends, your home, your job and everything you know to live a life of poverty but feel safe? Hopefully it’s a question most of us will never have to answer but I’m sure we can feel compassion for those who do.
You can also visit the Refugee Council’s excellent ‘The Facts About Asylum‘ page.