Saturday, 25 June 2022

Immigration and Conversation

What Would You Do About Immigration?


I still do some teaching: a couple of days a week Tutorial Support. It's relaxed and largely free of the questionable belief that the way to get everyone to move faster is to insist that we all drive in the outside (fast?) lane. It helps because I have a great colleague who believes more or less the same!

I started teaching in 1976 and my joy wasn’t so much about getting facts, dates and procedures across to the kids, it was about providing opportunities to challenge, think and reflect. I was lucky: you can do this pretty seamlessly in English & Drama (my subjects), nonetheless you have some way to create your own luck. That said, I was helped by great colleagues, a sense of fun, a flexible approach to curriculum design and delivery and some fantastic young people
I’m still in touch with a few of them on Facebook. They make me feel old and young at the same time and we sometimes embrace some challenging ideas. Hence the above question. It felt right to

  1. Answer it

and

  1. To do so with respect to the questioner and the subject matter


I’m trying hard to distance myself from snarky take downs-hence this post. And this feels important because there are a few rules to the game of dialogue that appear to have been (by and large) dismissed on Social Media and, yes I’ve been part of this too! So here are four to apply here:


  1. “Don't talk, listen!”

    1. Or in Social Media World-Read!

  2. Express empathy

    1. Mocking people because of their views isn’t going to help dialogue

    2. Having and displaying some respect for them may help us move to the next bit…

  3. Find common ground

    1. What stories, experiences and views do we have that might help establish the above?

  4. Get ready to “play a long game” and to agree to differ.


Origins


The title question came out of a conversation surrounding the issues around Rwanda, and the circumstances that led up to the government’s decision to proceed. It’s a volatile and emotive subject: one that in my view deals with effects rather than causes. The government is quite rightly, abhorred by the impacts of people trafficking and feels that its decision will “break the business model.” I don’t believe it will and here’s why.

The business of people trafficking is lucrative. It is organised by people with wealth, power and connectivity. It thrives on poverty, famine, economic distress,  war and social collapse. Those who are paid to traffic people are in my view, victims too. They have the promise and the opportunity to access wealth and power otherwise denied to them and they are prepared to sacrifice their humanity to acquire it, grow it and keep it. It’s a model that has been in place for centuries and we can’t expect it to change: or can we?


The promise/threat of being sent to Rwanda will not stop people trafficking, It might shift the means and focus but stop it? No. Action is needed at global level, we are dealing with an interconnected global problem, one that is conceived in the womb of famine, oppression, economic helplessness and war. We need to fix the cause at the same time as we deal with the effect.


What Could Happen and Shifts Required


The assumption that Britain is full and can’t afford an increase in population is flawed. The UK faces labour shortages and at the same time and for little more than increased approval ratings, healthy people who could contribute to the workforce are being considered to be re-exported to Rwanda. The problems and challenges we face within social and cultural groups are felt bi-laterally and there are solutions, ones that can be reached only by dialogue: some “managed reaching out” is needed. This is a contrast to recent strategies, including “Hostile Environment.” There is another flawed assumption, namely that the UK is unfairly burdened by immigration and the influx of refugees that make for good headlines. Yet when we compare how other European countries have responded, this position weakens.

We need to accept that global population movement is likely to be with us for a long time as climate, sea-levels and land usage present challenge after challenge to regions where people are clinging onto life by their collective fingernails, where corruption is rife and life is cheap. In accepting this position, there is a requirement to ask what can be done about the challenges faced. What are the technological solutions to flooding? Can we shift water around from places of plenty to places of scarcity, can we better secure food supplies, create more secure housing and infrastructure? Can we, working with others, create a sense of hope and purpose that encourages people to want to be part of regenerative approaches to their country’s future? You see, I believe we can but as long as the capital to do this resides in the hands of the greedy, I fear the action needed is a long way off.

And In The Meanitime?


At the sharp end, can we and again working with others, create sharper processing procedures? Can we better support reception and gathering points, in short, can we offer hope and fairness? There’s another and less savoury element and it carries the risk of exposing wealthy criminals who (and this is my speculation), enjoy a life that brings them social, political and economic approval: my questions are, how do we go after them and what do we do with them when we’ve identified them? My best guess is that there will be some embarrassing revelations!


My hope for this piece is a simple one: "To increase dialogue." Will it change minds? I’m unsure; there does however have to be a point at which we feel more confident to ask ourselves some questions that have intrinsically uncomfortable answers and options. This “truism” shouldn’t stop us from trying.