The ‘Good/Bad Immigrant’

We have been fed the idea that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ immigrants. How can a person be inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on their nationality, race, religion, level of success or methods of entering a country? Immigrants that ‘succeed’ and suppress their culture are accepted by their host countries and seen as ‘good’ immigrants. On the other hand, ‘bad’ immigrants are the ‘job thieves’ and ‘unskilled benefit-stealers’. Joe Zadeh wrote in an article for Vice UK that when his Iranian dad was a taxi driver in 1980s England, he faced racial abuse, like shouting on streets and getting punched in pubs. When his dad became a teacher, however, his “otherness had been abruptly turned down”. He had gone from a resource-stealing, dangerous, unwelcome immigrant to an accepted immigrant. In the UK, migrant workers wishing to get a Visa must qualify for 70 points. You receive points from speaking good English, receiving a job offer for a skilled job from an approved employer, and other factors that apparently make a “skilled worker”. Why are immigrants only being valued on their productivity and skills (which are subjective anyway) instead of just being valued as people?

According to the Migration Observatory, non-EU-born immigrants in the UK were more than 2x as likely to have faced discrimination for “nationality, religion, language, race or ethnicity, compared to EU-born migrants.” People of colour especially are constantly made to justify their space and existence in order to be treated with respect. Many immigrants of colour, or their children, constantly feel as though they need to excel at school or work to prove they deserve a place at the table. Especially after Brexit, many immigrants feel even more unsafe and unwelcome in the UK.

The idea that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ immigrants can also divide migrant communities, making many believe they are better/worse than others based on whether or not they ‘work hard’ and keep their heads down. 91% of migrants (as stated by the Migration Observatory) believe foreign-born people can get ahead if they work hard. Furthermore, the ‘good immigrants’ are the ones that often just accept racial abuse, and ‘don’t cause a scene’, as though that is the consequence we have to accept.

Additionally, wealthy and often white immigrants are usually classified as expats. This term creates a sense of superiority- like socioeconomic status and race separate you from being an immigrant. Where you are born is luck and does not give you more entitlement and authority over anyone else.

17-year-old wanting to make an impact on the world 📍ZA UK IN