Through the eyes of a migrant.

The world has gradually become a global community with no walls. The figure for international migrants globally reached 232 million, up from 175 million in 2000 ( This raises issues of economic, social and political importance for countries world over.

They spun the tale of a distant land, vibrant with prospects and new life. With features bespoke of aristocrats and soft voices belied by authority it was no wonder the elders bought their vision. Many followed both free and bond, willing and unwilling. We bought their way, but not the principles for navigating that way. It was impressive tales for so many still follow the trail in quest of a better tomorrow. Some do so blindly whilst others planned for it. For some, the tale is the only hope for life with a future.

In the first decades after WWII, colonial ties to a large degree shaped UK immigration. Due to long-established social, cultural and economic ties, citizens of Commonwealth countries have well-established networks that facilitate further inflows by lowering costs and risks of migration (Massey et al. 1998). There is sound empirical evidence that networks and cultural and historical links have a robust and strong positive effect on migration (Pedersen et al 2008, Mayda 2009).

And so they reached their destination beaming of hope, happy to have arrived safely. Some smiled in welcome, some with scrawls, others smiled but spat in anger privately. Not long before they realised that the die had been cast in order to survive they had to dance to the pipers’ tune. . It was a huge mind shift, a change on so many fronts natural and man-made. Like a misfit at a party, they must be ready to bear the brunt for any misconduct.

The experience of each migrant differs and is affected by the following age, income level, type of visa, time in the UK, household size, available resources, and rights in the UK. The UK imposes limitations on access to public benefits for a large percentage of immigrants, but it seems the vast majority of the public is unaware of this. In most instances, recent migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) cannot claim social housing benefits. Limitations placed on asylum seekers makes them legally unable to work, but they are nonetheless identified as scroungers.

We were willing and ready to work for our living though some had hoped for money off trees. Desirous to create a better tomorrow but marginalised by certain policies our hopes stayed alive. We haven’t come this far to go back the same. It was understandable when some frowned at us, not every child in a household welcomes strangers with open arms. But judging everyone as “bloody immigrants taking our jobs” was not fair. Neither was the swift wave of frenzy raised by politicians about immigration fair. It keeps people in the dark regarding the real problems and facts.

When migrants compare the limited economic opportunity back home to their working life in the UK they were prepared to tolerate poor pay and working conditions. Often taking up jobs they would never have done back home. With time, they became more aware of their rights as workers. New arrivals, especially from A8 countries, planned to get jobs better suited to their skills when they become proficient English speakers. As casual workers migrants are often exploited and didn’t help social integration. When communities feel a locality belonged to them chances were higher of immigration being blamed for problems which existed long ago. In these areas, immigrants are expected to integrate solely by themselves. This occurred less often in communities where migration and cultural diversity were acknowledged as part of everyday life. People expected their locality to include people ‘from here’ and ‘from elsewhere’ thus making it easy for migrants to integrate.

Immigration is one of those topics that will keep evolving over time and would probably never have one parallel satisfactory answer for all parties (residents and migrants). No man is an island neither is any nation, as global partnerships/markets grow so will diplomatic relationships and migration.


Click to access MAC-Migrants_in_low-skilled_work__Full_report_2014.pdf

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