We completely reject the Immigration Minister’s divisive comments on migrants and people arriving in the UK. At a time where hostility towards refugees and migrants is growing, his remarks are irresponsible and further vindicates the far-right. The Home Secretary has now added to Jenrick’s dehumanising narrative by drawing links between migrants and refugees and “drug dealing, exploitation (and) prostitution.”
The ludicrous claim that migrants have different lifestyles and values is another route to scapegoat and vilify people seeking safety. The Immigration Minister’s comments are part of a wider problem with terms such as cohesion, integration and assimilation, which cement the idea that migrants and racialised communities have to give up important elements of their identity or culture in order to be accepted. These ideas rest on divisive and racist ideas in order to thrive. In other words, it weaponises the problematic idea of ‘us vs. them’ and incites widespread fear of the ‘Other’. The Immigration Minister’s comments insinuate that our acceptance of people is conditional and must play into the preconceived idea of what is considered to be ‘respectable’.
These ideas have a historic and complex relationship with the UK’s immigration policies from the 1905 Aliens Act to the inhumane Migration Bill working its way through Parliament. Integration, cohesion and assimilation draw upon the concept of who is deemed to be welcome, and who is not. Furthermore, the use of the term cannibalise is a pointed and racist term drenched in colonial-era ideas, specifically about People of Colour. It is a racist term which draws on the colonial stereotype of people from the Global South as “savages”.
Unity is only threatened when groups are pitted against each other. We call on the Immigration Minister to withdraw his inflammatory remarks.