Immigration has been a big topic in most Western countries in recent years, but also really in the past. War, poverty, oppression and violence are reasons for people to leave their homes. It’s usually not when war breaks out that they decide to leave. When violence gets so close that it starts being a real threat for families and loved ones, when safety cannot be guaranteed anymore, that’s when people decide to leave and look for a safe place where life can go on without the constant threat of danger. There is a lot of interviews out there, where refugees get to tell their stories. And when we listen to them individually, their stories touch our hearts. There’s no one who can’t relate to it, because their stories are so deeply human.
So, are people against immigration? Polls do show that there needs to be a differentiation between country of origin. If you asked a Brit whether an Australian should be allowed to come and live in Britain the response is much likely to be different from whether a Nigerian should be allowed to come and live in Britain. Why are some people speaking of the Islamization of Europe? Or referring to how immigrants abuse welfare? How immigrants are a major source of crime? Or terrorism? Why can the UK revoke Shamima Begum’s citizenship based on her being from a minority ethnic and religious group? There are articles which prove that all of those concerns and assumptions are wrong or can be debunked . And still politicians do use immigration to pit the poor against the poor.
In Trump’s case it’s very easy to look through his rhetoric. We remember how he feels about immigrants from the so-called “shithole countries” compared to immigrants from Norway. Trump is a racist. White is at the top, while Asians are somewhat in the middle and Latinos, Blacks and Muslims are at the bottom. This is White Supremacy 101. And when his immigration policies merely focus on blocking immigrants and refugees from entering the US, rather than processing their applications as quickly as possible, the message is very clear. You, people, are not welcome. We will prosecute you, take your children from you and will send you back to Mexico, until it’s your turn to apply for asylum. But those methods of deterrence aren’t working. While the number of legal asylum requests have gone down, the number of immigrants entering illegally has gone up. If you have the choice between waiting at the Mexican border in unsafe conditions until it’s your turn and entering illegally, knowing that you can still seek refuge, what would you choose? It’s a no-brainer really, isn’t it?
Trump’s followers still choose to follow him, even though he’s proven time and again that he speaks racism, breathes racism and acts racism. His policies aim at making America white again and his supporters applaud him. But even speaking to people in Europe will mirror the same sentiment. Refugees from certain places are not wanted. The white man is scared of losing his privilege, and that’s why he wants to keep non-whites out. Brexit is another textbook example. Eastern Europeans – even though they’re white – were always at the fringes of whiteness. To quote Nazi jargon, Eastern Europeans were seen as “subhumans” and were put into the same class as Jews, Roma and Blacks. Nowadays, the racial hierarchy still places them below whites, but above people of colour. How often did we hear that Brexit was about “taking back control”? And partially, it was about taking back border control. Just before the referendum, there was the refugee crisis and a wave of workers from Eastern Europe came to the UK. Obviously, the pro-Brexit campaign also made sure to communicate how bad immigration was. Since the referendum the number of Europeans coming to the UK has halved. Polls now show that the Brits aren’t too bothered about immigration anymore. The numbers don’t mirror the same threat to white British culture, so why bother? But also, the greater threat at the moment is Brexit itself, so again why bother about immigration? Of course, one could ask, why bother with Brexit in the first place at all? Is it about what the people want? Or is it about speaking to the ranks of white supremacy that dominates the UK government?
Fact is that states use immigration laws to justify racist policies. Whether you apply for asylum or you come to a country to live with your spouse, you are being put in a position of total dependency. My right to live in the US is based on my marriage. If my husband chose to be abusive and I wanted to leave, my conditional residency wouldn’t make my life too easy if I wanted to stay in the US. A refugee, an immigrant or even a citizen from a minority ethnic, racial or religious group do not get the same protection and rights as citizens. The entitlement that white people feel translates into immigration and citizenship laws. This is why immigrants from “shithole” countries are not as welcome as immigrants from other white countries. This is why there is a Muslim ban. This is why Shamima Begum is being left stateless now. White supremacy runs through the whole system and it certainly doesn’t stop here.
Who belongs here? Do we really want states to have that kind of power? To decide who can cross the border and who can’t? Why do we need the state to control borders at all? And why do we support the thousands of deaths that occur when refugees try to cross the border? Are we not being barbaric, when we build walls and guard them that strictly and obsessively? Based on what moral grounds can we exclude people who are only seeking to save and better their lives? To get a part of that privilege that we secured by being born in the right country? How random our luck is, and how random their desperation.