Saturday, June 26, 2010

This morning comes news that Conservative Home Secretary, Theresa May, is to impose an interim cap on non-European Union immigrants. This temporary limit is to prevent last minute applications for immigrants outside the EU from applying and is set to only grant 24, 1000 visa applications.

I am both disappointed and disgusted.

The measure of putting a cap on non-EU immigrants is a ridiculous, useless and blatant xenophobic measure that panders to the far right, who shout and berate that there are too many immigrants here. I am sick of people stating thinly-veiled "concerns" about immigrants coming to the UK, taking "British jobs for British workers"and sponging off the system.

And yet, I am astonished that some people dismiss my concerns because I'm "Canadian". That these draconian measures don't really apply to my circumstances when, in actual fact, they do. These measures limit OUR RIGHTS. We immigrants have just as much as a right to be here as British people. We have struggled and worked VERY hard to move to the UK - be it for work, love of the country, or just love.

And although it is entirely blatant, these measures are, no doubt, an attempt to limit the number of immigrants from places like India, Pakistan, and Asia. The foreign "other". And although not many, I have had people point this out to me; that the British public isn't so much as concerned about Canadians, Americans, and Australians flocking to the UK, so much as people who "can't speak English". As if such an argument would satiate my disgust and rage, when it only magnifies the underlying racist tones.

We need to clear the air on common misconceptions about Non-EU immigrants. So, shall we?

- Even though we (happily) pay taxes and National Insurance, we are not allowed to claim any benefits ever. For example, if I ever lost my job, I could not claim job seekers allowance. If it got REALLY bad and I couldn't pay my rent/ mortgage, I could not claim housing benefits.

So, we pay into the system but CANNOT sponge off it. NOR DO WE EXPECT TO.

- Although, personally, I'm not a "skilled worker", I'm not stupid either. Many immigrants come here for various reasons and I can attest that most of us have had to work damn hard for it. Filling out UK Home Office forms isn't easy and you probably need a Bachelor's Degree just to make sense of it all. Many of us immigrants have degrees and indeed, we're probably better educated than compared with UK-born folks.

- A lot of UK universities depend on international students to pay international tuition fees (around £20, 000). Do you like your free tuition (only applicable in Scotland for Scots)? Yes? Then you better hope the foreigners keep paying those hefty fees.

I am so disheartened by these announcements. Such a knee-jerk measure to a complex issue will draw approval and applause from all the wrong people, who will only confirm that it's a "step in the right direction".

This is a step in the WRONG direction. This is a draconian measure that doesn't make any sense for the economy, businesses, or schools. It isn't right nor is it fair. At the moment, I feel completely driven and utterly powerless. In a way, I feel the need to stand up for us immigrants because who else will?

And yet, how can you calmly state your case to a screaming mass of "if you don't like it, go home?"


1001petals said...

They did this in Canada too about 15 yrs ago. I know almost nothing about it, my stepfather who was applying for permanent residency at the time told us about it. They withdrew it not long after. Hopefully they do the same there.

It really is unfair and comes down to racism. It's not as if the UK is overpopulated like China or India. But it is quite classist, isn't it.

Katie said...

I agree 100 percent - imposing an arbitrary cap on immigration is ludicrous and solves nothing. My visa is valid for another few years, but my husband will be looking to apply for a new visa in January, and if there have already been 24,100 applications, he won't be able to stay despite having lived here for six years and being educated to PhD level.

Jessica said...

No better in Belgium. I spent tonight enduring words about how it's the immigrants who must be the big problem in Belgium... not, for example the natives who have sponged off the unlimited EI system for more than 25 years. (areyoufuckingkiddingme? 25 years to NOT find a job and there is NO cutoff for EI here? You don't think that your country MIGHT be BLEEDING money because EVERYONE knows they can take advantage of things like THIS?)

Have you seen the stuff about the immigrant fruit-pickers in the US who have publicly, via the media invited Americans to take their jobs (since they are blamed for taking American's jobs?) Smart smart SMART counter-campaign.

Jennifer said...

1001/ A - I can't believe Canada used to have a similar system although, thankfully, they scrapped it. No doubt the Canadian government realised that it was discriminatory and you cannot rationally cap migration!

Katie - It is a shameful move. Is this really the UK?! Cool Britannia!? Unbelievable. My visa expires in 2014 and by then, let's hope this government is out and the legislation has been scrapped!

Jessica - You should post about that on your blog. I cannot stand when people perpetuate untruths and make immigrants scapegoats for societal woes.

Jennifer said...

thumbs up on keeping us informed on the issues Jen. Seems to happen over here too ("all the immigrants(thats a nice word I put in, I hear A LOT worse names) are taking away our jobs, blah blah blah") Hope it does get scrapped.

Anonymous said...

Just jump on the racist band wagon why don't you. Obviously we Brits must be racist because we want to limit immigration. Yes, we're all marching up and down in jackboots aren't we! Thanks for that insulting & simplistic analysis. Thanks for demonising us.

You live in Glasgow which IS NOT a major immigrant destination. You have zero idea of what it is like to live in multi-cultural Britain. You have zero idea of what it is like to feel like a stranger in your own country. I am a minority in my own community. So forgive me if I'm not over the moon about it.

And yet Brits round my way aren't out there fighting with immigrants. We're doing our best to be neighbours to them.

Yet we'd quite like someone to slow down the pace of change and that is what we 'racists' have voted for. We reactionary facists would like there to be less migrants NOT zero migrants. How terrible.

And if you want to take a pot shot at me for this go ahead. But if you put political stuff up don't expect every one of us to agree with your hand wringing liberal diatribes.

Holly said...

I got that bit of news the SAME day I had to go for my Identification Interview with the passport office. Talk about stress on top of stress. Even though technically I'm a British Citizen through my father, I still had to provide countless documents, wade through neverending circles of government paperwork, and be left sitting on the edge of my seat for weeks on end. I can't even imagine having to go through the process via visa or full immigration application. Limiting the number isn't the solution. A better filtering process to address any valid concerns would make more sense.

I just came back from a week in London, and while Glasgow isn't as muti-cultured, it's still got it's fair mix. In Canada, we were all a combination of immigrants, or children of immigrants, or great-great grandchildren of immigrants....our immigration policies and acceptance of different nationalities has created a varied nation. And a great one in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

So, how does this effect someone who has parents born in Glasgow?

I was under the impression that due to both my parents being from Paisley, that I was free to settle in Scotland if I want to do graduate studies there.

I was born in Toronto. I am planning on moving back with family in Mount Vernon to do a grad program, and likely will be interested in testing out a career path in Glasgow after that.

Should I be worried? If I am a citizen through my parents, how am I an immigrant?

Jennifer said...


Yes, you can register as a British citizen if your parents are British. It's a little complicated though and depends on what year you were born. Were you born before 1983? If so, then you can register as a British citizen born to a British Mom outside the UK. Info here:

If you were born AFTER 1983, it's a little more complicated.

At present, you should be fine (that said, only if you were born before 1983). The recent announcements only affect people who are -stupidly - considered highly-skilled workers and seeking the relevant visas.

HOWEVER, if you were born AFTER 1983, you may find it a lot more difficult in claiming British citizenship and go down the student visa route. If that is the case, then yes, you may be slightly worried as the governmennt announced that they would not be granting as many student visas to people outside the European Union.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jennifer.

Yeah, I was born in 1982, so I guess for now I am in the clear?

The other thing I was not sure about, after stumbling on to your blog, was the idea that only people born in Scotland can have the home rate fees on Uni programs.

My mum was saying that if I live with family there and/or on my own for three years that I am eligible to pay the home student rate. Provided I can prove my three years of stay.

This is kinda a major pull factor in moving, because it can save me tens of thousands. Hope it's as it seems.

Love the blog/website. I typed moving from Toronto to Glasgow and it popped up. Kinda awesome.

Hope my reverse migration works out as well as yours did for you.