While immigrants have often experienced difficulties integrating into a new society, in the past few years in the UK they have experienced increasing problems as a direct result of anti-immigration rhetoric from political parties which have then influenced citizens and government.
Even some immigrants who have been in the UK for two decades still struggle to integrate because of linguistic barriers or because they cannot find employment. The language barrier automatically suggests that they are uneducated when, in reality, it just prevents them from being able to properly express themselves. Even when an immigrant’s English is good, they can be held back by their accent which can cause miscommunication.
The children of these immigrants who are born in the UK and defined as ‘second-generation’ immigrants, integrate much more easily, if not always completely, into British society. As a result, there can be a huge generational gap in terms of ideas and culture. They often rely on their children for help with things they cannot understand; potentially making them feel even more like a burden. However, this is one of the main reasons that immigrants have come to the UK, to provide a better life for their children even if they themselves will struggle.
And this is before we even consider the xenophobia. As Kenyan-Somali poet Warsan Shire writes, when an immigrant arrives to their destination country:
‘And you are greeted on the other side
go home blacks, refugees
dirty immigrants, asylum seekers
sucking our country dry of milk,
dark, with their hands out
smell strange, savage –
look what they’ve done to their own countries,’
As has been proven, employment opportunities are scarcer because of discrimination based on the colour of your skin or your religion. In recent years as services and resources are becoming more constrained, the first scapegoat becomes the immigrant – migrants have taken the jobs, are taking benefits unnecessarily, are exploiting the NHS. This is rhetoric which has been heard too often.
As a result, many women do not integrate and there are areas of the UK where divisions and xenophobia are rife. JAN Trust aims to help immigrants who are struggling to integrate with a variety of classes including English and ICT classes. To find out more go to http://jantrust.org/.