Brexit: The Smear Campaign for Immigrants

Immigration. One of the top questions racing through the minds of voters who, in just a month's time, will decide the fate - and apparently security - of the EU.
When I became engaged in this debate and stumbled upon the issue of immigration, I had assumed that the issue would be migration and the freedom of movement of EU citizens. As a student whose future potentially contains a lot of travel and perhaps even work outside the EU, I was perplexed to find that people were actually opposed to this benefit.

Oh no, though. The main reason that people are backing the Brexit campaign is the issue of immigration control. Delving deeper into the issue, rather than finding rational argument and calm expression of opinion, one is slapped in the face with the politics of fear and clumsily disguised racism.

Politics of fear is nothing new and, in fact, happens in the Western World more than anywhere else. We continue to mock America and giggle about the stupidity of Bush, apparently forgetting his hand in deceiving the electorate and, in fact, the world and the unrelenting wave of Islamophobia that he has orchestrated that has only gotten worse in recent times with the rise of terrorism. We will remember what our leaders did to stop terrorism and "restrict" its likelihood by closing the borders or shutting down flights, bombing third world countries or leaving the Union that has protected Britons from returning to the Establishment dominated landscape of early 20th century Britain; we will not remember who invented, or at the very least radicalised these terrorists. We cannot let looming immigration figures get in the way of a logical vote.

We need to remember that, like everything else about leaving the EU, immigration figures are simply a prediction. Cameron can bum and blow about what he will restrict and how he will do it, but realistically a Britain outside the EU looks exactly like any other country outside the EU. Under this scenario, in order to permanently take residence in the UK, EU citizens would need to qualify for one of two visas - work or family - in order to stay, or apply for a temporary student visa which could then become permanent. The logical result of such difficult legal migration would be more illegal immigration, the very thing that people seem to be fixed upon stopping.

Besides, the use of current immigration figures to rationalise restricting entry have little to no basis, as immigrants are not draining money from our economy. The University of Oxford's Migration Observatory estimate that migrants take up around 1% of Britain's entire GDP. On top of this:
Migrants contributed GBP 31.2 billion in taxes and used benefits and state services valued at GBP 28.8 billion. Therefore, the net fiscal contribution of migrants was approximately GBP + 2.5 billion.
So there you have it. Immigrants do not drain our resources; they do the opposite.The vast majority are hardworking, decent Britons. They are not stealing your jobs, nor are they taking your hard earned taxes. Who are you looking to with your politics of fear? We cast a wary, mistrusting gaze in the general direction of families who speak a different language to us, at the behest of our Prime Minister, whose father has not paid a penny in tax due to his own tax haven and who owned shares in said tax haven fund. We will complain when our hard earned taxes go to 'benefit scroungers', but fail to speak up over the MP expenses scandals on duck ponds and light bulbs.  The working classes, regardless of original nationality, have been divided among themselves for years. We need to retreat from racist tendencies and divisive language, and indulge in the politics of pure fact rather than heightened emotions of hatred and anger.

Please, obtain facts from reliable sources, not Facebook comments or angry blog posts (no pot calling kettle black, these are credited and I am not angry. Yet.)  Weigh up ALL angles of the debate - the future of our economy, travel for yourself and your family, prospects of immigration that actually matter, Human Rights and all things that we lose and gain upon exiting the EU. I am firmly voting to remain, but I am not asking you to vote with me. I only ask that your motivations to vote stretch beyond the smear campaign of immigrants and refugees. For me, the language of the Brexit campaign is nothing but a divisive measure that scares us into the comfort of needing "security" by restricting our borders. I end with the words of the great Isaac Newton, "We build too many walls, and not enough bridges."


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