There Should Be No Such Thing as an ‘Illegal Immigrant’

Let’s abolish the term and abolish the concept.


Britain has been engulfed by the ‘Windrush generation’ scandal with the revelations that many of the thousands of migrants who arrived from Carribbean countries between 1948 to 1971 have been threatened with deportation.

The scandal has erupted because of incompetence in the British system, largely by British politicians. The destruction of landing cards, but most importantly, the changes to immigration rules in 2014, created such a hostile environment that many of the ‘Windrush generation’ found themselves unable to prove they had the right to stay in the UK despite spending the vast majority of their lives here.

But this scandal, this absolute outrage, also asks greater questions around migration. Should we really be deeming anybody ‘illegal’ at all?

“Should we really be deeming anybody ‘illegal’ at all?”

The Home Office has a shocking record on how it treats migrants. Queer migrants and asylum seekers have been asked to ‘prove’ their sexuality or gender, which is based on outdated stereotypes on what a queer person should be, do or look like. Yarl’s Wood regularly draws criticism for its treatment of migrants. It detains suspected ‘illegal’ migrants indefinitely and there have been hunger strikes at the facility due to the alleged poor conditions at the centre.

Should anyone ever be treated in such a manner simply for coming to another country? We have laws, taxes etc. but should anyone be deemed illegal?

If we really wanted to tackle migration levels, we’d get serious. We’d work with other nations to be able to invest in jobs, we’d ensure that employers weren’t exploitative and paid everyone a living wage (and not vulnerable migrants cheaper) and we’d expand our foreign aid budget. But the facts are, this idea our country will fall apart with more people is nonsensical. If we threw open the borders now we would not in any way, shape, or form end up with a population we couldn’t sustain. This whole argument is a red herring.

We know it’s not any sort of issue other than a political one. People want lower migration so we get ‘go home vans’, ridiculous and punitive laws that deem people illegal for simply existing and we deport people to countries where they have barely spent any time at all.

If we learn anything from the ‘Windrush generation’, it should be to treat every single migrant with respect. Nobody should ever be deemed illegal. That attitude belongs in the pages of history.

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