Revealed: how our media shuts out migrant voices

From January to April, only 8 per cent of Daily Mail stories on migration featured a migrant voice, and only 6 per cent of Times articles.

From January to April, only 8 per cent of Daily Mail stories on migration featured a migrant voice, and only 6 per cent of Times articles

This week’s mudslinging between the political parties on the eve of the Rochester and Strood by-election shows that migration is never far from the centre of heated debate. Yet in what is a much rehashed and long-running debate there is one notable absence: the voice of migrants themselves.

About one in 10 of the UK’s population is foreign born and more of us are the children of migrants. Despite this, research by Migrant Voice has shown a huge dearth of migrant voices in the immigration debate, with many media outlets going many weeks without a migrant voice.

From January to April 2014 only 8 per cent of Daily Mail stories on migration featured a migrant voice, and only 6 per cent of Times articles.

This huge imbalance in the debate means there are multiple aspects of our immigration system that go unreported. Without the voice of migrants in this debate we lose the human, and it makes the race to the bottom over migration all too easy.

One clear example of where migrant voices could improve the quality of debate is on the actual process of immigration, and the shambolic state of the Home Office.

For years migrants have been raising the clarion call that the Home Office is not fit for purpose when handling immigration and asylum procedures. But it was only in July 2013 that we discovered that over half a million immigration cases were as of yet unprocessed, a backlog that would take 37 years to process.

This huge wealth of unprocessed claims has left countless families unfairly in limbo, and seems a recipe for hurried, unpopular and arbitrary decision making, typified by the deportation of Yashika Bageerathi and the latest attempted deportation of Wadih Chourey, a man with Down’s Syndrome who faces removal because his parents died.

Equally without the voices of migrants the wider public gets little chance to understand the human toll of the coalition’s migration policies. This could not be clearer than in the government’s policy on family migration. If you as a UK citizen want to marry a non-EU partner, you have to be earning at least £18,600 a year.

The amount is more than the earnings of 47 per cent of the working population and, as a result, all too many families are torn apart over an arbitrary hurdle that doesn’t account for a spouse’s potential earnings.

Indeed there is little evidence to suggest the public want the type of immigration reform we are getting. 64 per cent of people surveyed by IPPR agreed that if migrants work hard, pay into the system and uphold British values they should be welcomed to the country. In spite of that we’re getting a migration system that is putting off international students, that is turning away much needed talent and that is detaining refugees in terrible conditions.

Our Vote 2015 is our response. It is a campaign aimed to get the voices of migrant communities and allies heard, which pushes for a humane and fair migration system. Our launch of our Migrant Manifesto loudly called for a migration system that protects family life, protects international students right to study and contribute and that avoids the harsh callousness of the racist van.

Our first action is a lobby day of parliament. On Wednesday 26 November starting at 10am we’re taking our advocates to parliament to get in front of their MPs and get migrant voices and allies heard. It’s time that parliamentarians heard the full spectrum of views on migration rather than just a narrow tranche of hardline skeptics.

To be a part of the day you can register here.

Benali Hamdache is the campaigns co-ordinator for the Migrants Rights Network. He is also equalities and rights sub-editor at Bright Green

11 Responses to “Revealed: how our media shuts out migrant voices”

  1. GhostofJimMorrison

    Migrants don’t need a platform – they have self-appointed ‘community leaders’ and George Galloway to advance their cause…

  2. Godfrey Paul

    Why should they have a voice? They are not British !!!

  3. Guest

    Ah yes, so nobody should speak for them, then, right. Thanks for that PR message from the Newthink Agency.

  4. Guest

    And why should you have a voice, as you oppose the British (and our economy)!!!

    You are opposing, if you read the article, not just the first generation but well beyond. You’re arguing for second-class citizenships, etc.

    No surprise you’re all for turning away paying students and high-skill workers though, can’t possibly be economic issues from that which are hurting British people in your narrative, oh no – never mind the pesky facts.

  5. GhostofJimMorrison

    Hush now Wolfey. Go take your pills and have a lie down.

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