I’m one of ‘those immigrants’

I am. I emigrated to the UK. I am here to ‘take your jobs’ and ‘ruin your culture’.

I get where this aversion is coming from. I do. It isn’t cool when you feel like you are being diluted and that places are being taken up and your kids don’t get the same benefits. I’m sorry.

Even though, as a U.S. citizen, I get no benefits here. (it’s stamped on my passport y’all) I still feel the sting when I hear this said in front of me.

It feels really yucky when I hear people chatting about ‘those immigrants’ and then they see my face, and then say…”oh, well not you…”

Is it because that I am white? Or not Polish? Or..(i don’t even know how to be an intolerant asshole, loss for words)

Or is it because I am an American and ‘that’s OK then’?

I am from Detroit. South-eastern Michigan boasts the  highest population of people from the middle-east, other than the middle-east. (33% y’all) I grew up with friends from Israel and Iraq. I grew up with friends that spoke Spanish or French as a first language. We all got along. But I never once thought; get out of my country you asshole.

My school bus was shot at by an Iraqi. His sister was one of my best friends.  I used to have a Jewish boyfriend. I taught my kids Spanish so that we could talk to our neighbors from Mexico, and our kids could play together. I never once thought, get out of my country, you asshole.

I lived through 9/11. And believe me, in Detroit, on 9/12, it was a whole new day when we all had to come out of our houses and face each other. The whites, the blacks, the Americans, the Iranians, the Iraqi’s, the Israelite’s , the shop keepers, the people on the street. We looked at each other with suspicion and dread. Then we remembered that we were friends before, and were still friends, the same people. I will never forget the look on the face of my local shop-keeper that day. He had an American flag in his window and he was afraid. But, no harm came to him and we just got on with it. (OK, Michigan is not Alabama, but still…)

You guys, it hurts my feelings when you say those nasty things about immigrants. Change your laws, restrict your building, do what you need to do. Just don’t hate us all. We are here for a better life. And we mean you no harm.

At least that’s what it felt like from the other side. Now I know both sides. I hope it is OK to call the UK my country. I hope it doesn’t offend you.

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7 thoughts on “I’m one of ‘those immigrants’

  1. Very eloquent and very disturbing. What I find here in the San Francisco area is a much more “liberal” attitude toward immigrants. And I’m very grateful for that. I am married to a Navajo man from Arizona. When we travel to Arizona, people eye him with suspicion thinking he is an illegal alien. We always get pulled over as soon as we cross into Arizona. It’s ridiculous really. Alex thinks of the white people in Arizona as illegal aliens!

    My daughter is married to a Middle Eastern man and has converted to Islam. She wears the chador in San Francisco and nobody blinks an eye. I would have a difficult time living somewhere if this was not the attitude.

    I am a Mexican woman and I was born in San Francisco before it was cool to be ethnic. I heard my share of “wetback” and “beaner” remarks. My Mexican dad was one of the first Mexican cops on the force at the San Francisco Police Department.

    Immigrants bring so much to a melting pot. If it weren’t for immigrants, all Americans would look a lot like my husband Alex. He’s a handsome man, but hey! I’m all about some diversity! The Brits I know are a little more racist that the people around me. but then again, I’m not from Arizona, or Alabama!

    • Thank you so much for your words. I was really reluctant to post this at all. I would love to read your story. Link me in if you write it. xoxox

  2. Obviously we are getting a big dose of that in France as well. I’m not sure how the UK does it, but in France immigrants have to go through a LOT of language and cultural classes. Invariably, unless there is a Russian lady there, I am the only white person in the room. And my fellow immigrants’ experiences in Europe have been far, far different than mine.

    The only area in which they are doing better? Jobs. I am guessing because there are huge and well established communities of Algerians, Tunisians, Senegalese, etc., where there are opportunities for that first job, even if it’s low-paid. There’s just no equivalent for an American, who also can’t get French employers to give her the time of day.

    But the comments, the looks, that kind of stuff … it’s just very sad, if not THAT different from the way some immigrant groups are treated in the States.

    • You see, that is just the thing. I have had to pay THOUSANDS of pounds just to stay here with my British husband. I take NONE of the benefits. We get nothing, but still pay taxes.
      But at the same time it does hurt my feelings to have people slag us immigrants off.
      Does the UK need a better policy on benefits and immigration? ab-so-fucking-lootly y’all.
      But I felt like I should say something.
      Thank you for your comment, I know it must be different for you as well. xoxox

  3. Well written as ever. I love being British until I hear and read the comments made in retaliation to certain events such as the awful incident yesterday which has resulted in friends of mine being too scared to leave their houses due to the disgusting behaviour of fellow Brits.

    We desperately need a new immigration policy but I doubt restrictions are necessarily the answer. I have a small but vaguely linked story that made me really change my mind on immigration.

    Before I moved to Devon I was a volunteer at an old huge seaside hotel that was converted to bedsits for immigrants and asylm seekres awaiting the outcome of visa and benefit claims. My role was to be a support worker and get them into an educational programme of basic English language. There were five women and over 200 men. All of the women had two or more very young children and had been in the UK for approx four years. They were spat on in the street and frequently told they were scum for coming over, being on benefits and leeching from our welfare system. They were slags for clearly sleeping about and breeding the second they got here.

    Now let us look at this slightly differently. On building full of men from countries where women are treated appallingly. Five women who spoke little English and wrote none. Rape is not illegal in many countries. It can be a mans right to take a woman if he pleases, For the women, rape was not necessarily something unusual. What right did they have to say no?

    My shocking discovery was that all five of these women had been raped numerous times by the men in the hotel and this was why they had children so little and this was why they had no self-esteem. They had not even been told that in the UK it is a crime to force someone into sex. I wish this was an isolated case but it is not. I am VERY glad that one of these women went into education, got herself a fab degree and is now lecturing round the UK to advise council policy on immigration.

    If our country was as rubbish to live in as the ones many immigrants come from then surely we would hope that somewhere would give us the chance to relocate.

    What our immigration system needs is to wise up and ensure people moving here are educated in what is legal or even acceptable here and what is not. Not some stupid ‘How British are you’ test but a course in our laws and customs.

    People come here for a better life be it to be with a new husband, to escape fear and violence or to just have a change. What right do we have to stop them as long as they commit to understanding our country? Those that do not stick to our laws, cause trouble and don’t play fair should be deported. Simple as that really. I hope it makes sense.

    • Yes to all of this.
      I came here for a better life, to be with a new husband, to escape fear and violence. ALL OF THAT.
      And I escaped from America.
      How much worse must it be for others?!?
      I won’t man-bash either.
      I just remember all of us pulling together and doing something about it. I am talking to you, Leaders of the Free World. I am talking to you, Religious leaders. I am talking to you, people on the street. I am talking to all of you. TALKING.
      Weirdly, I have started liking Yorkshire Tea. This will probably piss off more people than my original post did. 😉

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