13.4.04

Immigration, asylum and terrorism (The good, the bad and the ugly)

The recent furore in the British media about immigration is threatening to bring Tony Blair's labour government to its knees, and is almost certain to be a major issue in the next general election. It is a disturbing trend that I noticed when living in the UK from 2001-2002. I would blame poor journalism, for the most part the tabloid press, with particular reference to the Daily Express, The Mail and The Sun, for sensationalising the issue in order to sell newspapers. What they have done, is put the British public in a frenzy, they feel that foreigners are comimg into their country, taking all the jobs, benefits, houses, schools, and that soon the 'pure' British people will be an ethnic minority. This is simply not true.

I do not envy the British government in any way. They seem to be in an impossible position. The latest 'scandal' comes as a result of the a 'visa scam' in certain countries where proper checks were not made on visa applications. So, in essence, it would seem that certain people have come into the UK that would not normally be given permission to enter. What the press has failed to mention is that from the 1st of May (less than a month away!), these same people will not even NEED a visa to enter the UK, as the countries in question would have become members of the EU. So what is all the hullabaloo about? A minister has had to resign over this. And in case the Tories have forgotten, they were the ones that joined the EU in the first place!

What all this 'noise' has done is create apathy towards all foreigners, a dangerous trend I started to notice when walking down the streets of Liverpool a couple of years ago. Racism is at all time high, and the British National Party (BNP) has more support that ever before, winning some council seats in Burnley is evidence to this fact. I was abused for being a'black man', and some people had the nerve to call me a 'bloodly asylum seeker'. While most of the people who do this are uneducated and tabloid-reading, poorly informed individuals, the trend has continued, and it is sad that the conservative party are continuing to add fuel to the fire is very, very sad indeed. I pray that all this does not lead to more race riots, but it seems to be heading that way. The media has managed to convince the man on the street that immigration, asylum and terrorism are all one and the same, which is very erroneous and could lead to a massive problem. Immigrants include holidaymakers, foreign students, businessmen, who are all ESSENTIAL to the British economy. The recent arrests in the UK of 9 people who were apparently planning a bombing campaign consisted of BRITISH citizens, all of Pakistani origin, so immigration couldn't have helped to stop them entering the country, now could they?

Anyone who watched the second series of the TV series 24 might remember that after the nuclear bomb went off, people started to attack Arabs on the street, as 'revenge'. It hadn't even been announced who planned the attack, it was assumed that it was Arabs. Innocent Arabs were beaten to death. I have a strong feeling that in the event of a terrorist attack in the UK, similar scenes would be repeated all over the country. The anger against all immigrants, which has steadily been building up over the years would come to a head, and the results would be pure chaos. I don't even want to imagine it.

Some would argue that Britain has taken in enough people and should shut their doors once and for all. Good argument. But what these ignorant, bigoted people would fail to see is that most of these foreigners either do the low-paying jobs that British people will not do, or the highly skilled jobs that they cannot do. The labour government realises that the foreigners are vital to the British economy, and are trying to relay this fact to the electorate. What is needed now is for the British people to see how immigration positively affects their economy, and the country as a whole. With the tabloid press constantly printing negative stories about immigration, this will not be possible. However, journalists who have gone down this route are only in the business to sell papers, and all ethics are out the window. Look at how they are currently destroying David Beckham's marriage! So they are part of the problem, and I don't see them being a part of the solution. There are many immigrants who are building their communities and contributing to the UK in too many ways to count, in engineering, academics, even the cleaners on the tube! What these papers tend to do is to print negative stories about the minority. With countries like the USA, Canada and Australia doing their best to attract skilled foreigners to their shores, the UK could soon loose out. Why would I migrate to a land where I will be an object of hate? But with the UK's aging population, and uneducated work force, they need people from developing countries, who almost always have a higher level of education to work in their industries. For example, while I was completing my M.Sc. degree in Microelectronic Systems and Telecommunications, how many British people did we have in our class. None. Not a single one. UK universities have a large number of foreign students, and the government is trying to retain these people, with the new law stating that graduates from UK universities do not need a work permit to work after completing their studies (for a year).

I however agree that something will have to be done about asylum seekers. Most of them file bogus claims and keep out the genuine asylum seekers. And the British government in all their 'generosity' house them for free, give them a weekly allowance, free healthcare, education for their children, etc all on the taxpayer's bill. It's simply not fair to the hardworking individual who pays his taxes, only to see someone doing nothing, and getting looked after by the fruits of his labour. The British government does more for asylum seekers than any government in the world, and what happens is that all asylum seekers in Europe flock to the UK. The Sangatte refugee camp in France was a major problem as the refugees did all they could to get across the border to England, the land of milk and honey. In a perfect world, this kind of treatment would be lauded. However, with so many bogus asylum seekers, it may be necessary for the government to put their foot down and do something to clamp down on this. The sooner the better. The apathy towards asylum seekers is growing, and one day, will soon boil over.

One last word. The British people who believe that Britain is for only British people should sit down and think. From the days of the slave trade, and colonialism, the British became great by oppressing other nations and people. In Nigeria, so many of our problems today can be traced to decisions taken by our British colonial masters. The British went to the 'Gold Coast', and by then time they left, there was so little gold left, they had to rename their country 'Ghana'. British Criminals were 'dumped' in South Africa. Even in the USA, the 'native Americans' were driven into reservations, where they are to this day. This was repeated all over the world, from Australia to Asia. I will decline to mention anything about the slave trade, as I am sure they themselves know how evil this was. But what is plain is that one tiny island once wielded its influence all over the world, leaving havoc behind them. I have heard some of my fellow Africans say that the foreigners overrunning the UK today is simply 'payback' for all the 'moral crimes' the UK has committed in the past. There might actually be some truth to that when you think about it.

Also, there are a large number of British Expats all over the world, working and earning massive wages. My high school principal was British, and she contributed so much to making me 'the man I am today'. Nigeria has several British people working in the Petroleum industry. All over the middle east, the 'origin' of 21st century terrorism and home of Osama Bin Laden, there are thousands of Brits, quietly making a tax-free fortune. So if highly skilled Brits can go to other countries to make a living, why can't everyone else come to their country? Should we send them all home? Migration is a necessity of the 21st century. I rest my case.

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