When I have conversations about these topics with my friends and colleagues – about the issues they have with immigrants coming to the UK – I always bring up that I too am an immigrant, that tighter controls affect me directly. They say:
I explain that I’ve been rejected for a visa once before, had to sit before an immigration judge to prove my right to stay, representing myself against a Home Office lawyer.
I explain that jobs weren’t blindly given to me and taken from British folk – I interviewed, was assessed, and proved the best candidate.
I explain that myself and many incomers want to live here and make our communities better – volunteering, starting businesses, actively engaging.
I explain that the visa process is anything but an ‘open-door’ – it’s difficult, ever-changing, and comes with no guarantees. Rules change and you need to leave. Last summer this happened to me – when I had to quit my job, leave my house, leave my partner, and go back to Canada to apply for another visa. I’m back now, but it’s been the better part of a year, and the visa process isn’t finished yet.
The EU migrants you’re trying to block from coming to the UK aren’t a faceless mass – they are people with stories, and lives, and contributions, and talents. They bring different skills, perspectives, cultures – they make us richer in their diversity, not weaker. Like me, they have reasons why they want to be in Britain, and more often then not, it’s not borne out of a desire to threaten British values, sponge off the system, or cause trouble.