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Why Theresa May is so wrong

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Recent events have escalated the debate around immigration to beyond the corridors of Westminster. From listening to people in my community, the recent rhetoric has been lacking in both substance and form.

The brutal tone and language deployed by national figures of late has tarnished our reputation for compassion and justice words such as ‘abusing’, ‘tough’, relay exaggerated visions of the living dead creeping up beyond our shoreline. Sensationalist headlines accompanied by images of people clinging onto lorries, desperate for a way out, seeing our country as a place of hope, an escape from poverty, pain and brutality. What happened to our compassion and empathy?

“Students, yes. Over-stayers, no. And the universities must make this happen,” said Theresa May.

Some of the brightest and best in the world choose to save up, work and study at our universities and yet we choose to banish these bright young things back home? We need all the talent we can get. Such a view is not only short-term but woefully lacking in foresight. These students are our future teachers, professors, dentists, architects, designers, engineers and entrepreneurs.  I believe the British public will not fall for such empty rhetoric designed to score cheap political points.

Our success as a nation has been built on immigration within the framework of British laws, values and a culture of inclusion. A report published today by University College London’s Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration concluded that immigrants from the 10 countries who joined the EU in 2004 contributed more to the UK than they took out in benefits. They added £4.96bn more in taxes in the years to 2011 than they took out in public services.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29910497.

Go to any hospital and look around you at the doctors, nurses and staff to see how immigration has benefitted us. Go to your local high street for a meal and marvel at the collection of world kitchens available for your gastronomic delight. People who settle here and build a life for themselves and their families will be the workers of the future their kids will become our future creating the wealth to ensure our pensions and retirement. This is how we can face the future together, by remembering our values and rejecting divisiveness. Of course we need to ensure fairness and a level playing field for all, policies to enforce the national living wage, clamping down on irresponsible employers and tackling illegal human trafficking.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people wanting to be British and building a better life. After all that’s what my parents did in 1970.

Vincent Lo is the Vice Chair and Treasurer for Chinese for Labour. If you would like to write for Chinese for Labour, or have any events that would be of interest to our community then please email at alvin.shum@chineseforlabour.org. 

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