It’s hard to separate myth from reality when reading about immigration in the media. The popular press frequently gives stories about migrants a negative spin just confirming the prejudices of their readers. If proved wrong apologies are hard to find among the latest celebrity scandals and other trivia that fill their pages. The government does little to counteract falsehoods even when their own reports say the opposite of what’s in the tabloids. We’re going to help them by challenging the myths and sharing findings from reliable sources. So what have we learned this month?
The Home Offices Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) reported that there’s ‘no strong evidence that new EU migrants have undermined the job prospects of Britain’s school-leavers’. Their report, Migrants in low-skilled work, does however, say that there has been ‘only a small negative impact on the low-paid, but greater resources and more severe penalties are needed to enforce minimum wage rules’. Why is it that the exploited immigrants get scapegoated when it’s their employers who are flouting the law?
Despite all evidence to the contrary a poll by the Guardian and ICM published in June, revealed that almost half of British voters believe that the impact of immigration on employment underlies their sense of economic insecurity.
The latest NatCen British Social Attitudes survey also shows that a quarter of British people said that they believed the main reason immigrants came to the UK was to claim benefits, although successive government reports provide evidence that immigrants are pay substantially more than they receive in health, education or other benefits.
The Guardian’s case studies Six real life stories of migration are a sobering reflection of the impact the hostile environment is having on both immigrants and British citizens who happen to be married to one of them.
Many respondents keen to demonstrate that they are not racists often suggest that the less-skilled migrant should be discouraged from coming to our shores but the highly-skilled should be encouraged. However, an article ,in the Financial Times, by highly qualified Lisa Pollack, a US citizen, revealed that new barriers have been erected to make it more difficult to win the most flexible Tier 1 visa which allows skilled professionals to come here to seek work and gain citizenship after a period of time if they wish.
On a lighter note Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford’s Too Many Immigrants attempted to deal with the concerns of five British-born people unhappy about the impact of immigration by pairing them with five immigrants to ‘look at the issues of jobs, housing and what it means to be British’. Their approach came in for a lot of criticism from both the broadsheets and tabloids. However, the programme also did overturn some of the myths associated with immigrants. Judge for yourself.
More heart warming was the Glasgow Girls a musical rendition of the true story based on the experiences of a group of friends at Drumchapel High School, who launched a high-profile campaign against child detention and deportation after their classmate, an asylum seeker from Kosovo, was snatched in a dawn raid by police and succeeded in changing immigration practices in Scotland. Catch it on BBC3 or iPlayer.
Meanwhile residents of Derby Road, Southampton, soon to appear on our screens a Immigration Street have told Love Productions’ creative director, Kieran Smith, in no uncertain terms not to darken their doorsteps. The Independent reported that residents held up banners reading ‘go away’ and strongly voiced their disapproval of their ‘diverse and harmonious’ neighbourhood being ‘brought into disrepute’ as happened with Love Production’s controversial Benefits Street for Channel 4 last year.