October 14, 2013 by jeliwobble
This meme has annoyed me this week.
There is a tendency in certain sections of Western society to demonise migrants, regardless of where they have migrated from or why they have migrated. Xenophobic rhetoric is found in no greater profuseness than the Fascist UK rag known as the Daily Mail. They turn every migrant alien into some kind of monstrous unit known as ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (no matter whether they are legal or not), then bestow on them the unlikely, mutually exclusive characteristics of being there to ‘take all our jobs’ and ‘claim all our benefits’ at the same time, such that it is entirely the fault of these monsters that the economy is going down the pan.
All of which, of course, is utter baloney.
For starters, the vast majority of aliens are economic migrants, there for jobs that the native people can’t or won’t do. They wouldn’t be migrating if the jobs weren’t available and, as soon as they aren’t, they often go back home. Usually, these migrants have to pay taxes in a country they can’t vote in and make social security payments they will never use, as well as jump through some ridiculous hoops to prove that they have a right to be in the country that needed their skill in the first instance. They are not there for hand-outs. They’re there to work.
A smaller proportion are refugees, fleeing unstable, often war torn, countries seeking asylum from their usually terrible ordeal. These are the migrants who are demonised most by the Fear creating and perpetuating media, as they often arrive without passports, without money and, most definitely, without visas. When they arrive in their ‘safe haven’, they often go through almost as many ordeals as they have gone through to get to the shores of their new land, because the law is as suspicious as the population. Contrary to popular belief, these migrants don’t get handed mansions and money when they cross the borders. Once arrived, they live in much reduced circumstances and receive decidedly less money than a native person receiving benefits would get, as is mandated by an international convention (http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c137.html). They are not allowed to work until they have either been awarded a visa or have been sent home. Many of them get packed off back from whence they fled in very short order.
A tiny amount of immigrants are illegal. They can be either economic migrant or refugee but, for various reasons, have arrived without the correct visas, stayed beyond the length of their original visa, or have simply left their home country in search of a better life (and who can blame some of them?).
Still, these alien people are all lumped in together, branded ‘illegal scroungers’ by the media, and blamed for the woes of the country.
We are economic migrants. We are also economic migrants who have had to ‘claim benefits’ in the country of our residence. Did we do this through choice? Of course not. We have, as a family, paid into the social security system in the country of our residence for nine years, so instead of leaving straight away, which some people believe we should have done, we took the opportunity of taking a little of that social security (as well as spending our own savings, the savings from family, the goodwill of some wonderful friends and not paying some bills) while he looked at ways of joining the economy again. Thank goodness, he has accepted a job and will start paying those taxes and social security payments again come Tuesday.
And yet, it seems that some people I know have forgotten that a. we are migrants and b. we have been claiming benefits so have c. liked and shared the above meme.
So, which are we; monsters or just aliens?