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Words Matter

The words we use form the foundations of immigration legislation + media rhetoric, as well as defining who is welcome in the UK.

Your words matter.

We understand how important the language that we use is, especially when it comes to shaping narratives around migration and migratised communities. That’s why we have launched our Words Matter campaign which aims to explore the ramifications of certain language, and to show solidarity to migratised communities by standing up against harmful narratives.

Get involved with Words Matter in the run up to the General Election

Words Matter

The scapegoating of migrants often occurs in times of crisis. However, current narratives around migrants and marginalised people are intensifying. In recent years, the UK Government has passed successive measures to make the lives of people seeking safety and a new life increasingly difficult. The Immigration Bills of 2014 and 2016, the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, and the Illegal Migration Act have relied heavily on demonisation and division in order to be framed as palatable.

Migrant advocacy often looks at migration as a siloed issue. It rarely looks at the construction of migrants through an intersectional lens or considers how systems of oppression shape our idea of who is welcome in the West. While racial equality organisations have worked hard to expose the racist undertones of the language of ‘integration’, ‘assimilation’ and ‘integration’, these narratives are regularly reinforced by the migrant rights sector. 

Hate crime was up by 26% in 2021-2022, including a 19% rise in racially motivated attacks, 56% increase to trans people, 43% rise towards people with disabilities and sexual orientation related hate crimes up by 41%. Hate towards certain religious groups is up too with Muslims and Jewish people being the most targeted groups. If we want to create a society where everyone is welcome, we must understand how these identities intersect with immigration status. This intersectional and anti-oppression approach has been overlooked for too long. 

At the Migrants’ Rights Network, understanding the role intersections of identity play in shaping migration policies is central to our campaigning work. We must understand and be honest about who these policies are aimed at, and why. That’s what makes the Words Matter campaign unique: we know we cannot effectively tackle divisive language unless we expose the root of migration rhetoric.

We have therefore dedicated this campaign to exploring the ramifications of certain language, debunking the terms “illegal immigration”, “refugee crisis” and “integration”.

Explore these topics in more detail by navigating to the menu at the bottom of this page.

Words Matter in the media

Sky News- Words Matter

On Friday 11 November 2022, our CEO, Fizza Qureshi, spoke to Sky News about the implications of harmful language such as “invasion”, “refugee crisis” and “illegal”:

Sludge Mag- Words Matter

We’re really excited to have teamed up with Sludge Magazine to tell some of the stories behind our Words Matter campaign! In this article, Fizza, Katia and Ana in the MRN team share some words or phrases that have negatively impacted them and their communities, and why the Words Matter campaign is so important. You can read the full article here.

Sludge Mag

Donate to support our Words Matter campaign

To keep our Words Matter campaign going, and to help us continue to defy the narrative, you can donate here. Your donation will enable us to call on politicians, charity sector organisations, the media and individuals to recognise that their words matter.

In this project:

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