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Migrants and Migration

“Illegal Immigration”

How many "illegal immigrants" are in the UK?

The answer is zero. “Illegal” immigrants do not exist. “Illegal immigration” does not exist. Read on to understand why:

illegal immigration
illegal immigration

Dehumanisation

We reject the word “illegal” to describe undocumented migrants. This word is dehumanising, immoral, inaccurate, and contributes to the demonisation of migrant communities…

The word is dehumanising and reductive, and an insult to the struggle and arduous experiences that migrants may have been through. It is also factually incorrect: an action can be illegal, not a person. Even when an action is defined as illegal, legal status is arbitrary and often does not coincide with morality. The word also contributes to increased hostility towards migrant communities, and insinuates that they are undeserving of rights. The word is also used to scapegoat migrants who are forced into unsafe routes, when the outrage should really be directed towards government failures to provide safe routes.


Solidarity

How can we show solidarity towards migrants? It is so important to uplift the migrant experience: and this starts with the language that we use….

illegal immigration
illegal immigration

We should use the terms “undocumented migrants”/ “irregular migrants” instead. This language emphasises the structural violence of bordering, and universalises the migrant aspiration for dignity: an aspiration that we all share…

The language of “undocumented” or “irregular” sheds light on the struggle that migrants face as they navigate the violence of border regimes. This language thus allows for a focus on the structures that force migrants into unsafe routes.

Migration is a natural facet of the human experience. It represents a hopeful aspiration for a more dignified life. By universalising the migrant experience, we can emphasise that we are all deserving of dignity. In doing so, we can shift the narrative away from “illegal immigration”, and express solidarity to those who are harmed by borders. In doing so, we can also shift the blame onto the structures that upend the right to dignity of the most marginalised communities. No human being is illegal.

To join the conversation, find our tweets, here and here. Don’t forget to like and share!

#WordsMatter