With the mainstream media in the UK seemingly determined to portray the impact of immigration as negative and harmful, it is vitally important for parity to be established and the truth to be vocalised. Many of those who travel to the UK in search of a better life are children. This is something that is consistently forgotten by those responsible for our major media outlets; when they are waging an ideological war against migrants, they are disrespecting the many young people who are fleeing the turbulent social, economic or political context in their country of origin. Migrant children have no say in matters; they are not responsible for the events in their homeland, nor are they to blame for anything that occurs in the host country. They are frequently the product of traumatic situations, and for this reason alone the biased coverage of immigration is unjust and wrong.
Contrary to the views peddled by the mainstream media, immigration actually brings a huge amount of benefits, both to the host country and to the lives of migrants. For migrant children, arriving in the host country opens up an array of opportunities. With forced migration all too common due to persecution and humanitarian crises, safety and wellbeing alone are extremely valuable commodities. In spite of the hostile policies that migrants encounter upon arrival in the UK, being able to forge a life for oneself free from the threat of violence is a monumentally positive step. In relation to this, safe arrival in the host country can also provide migrant children with the opportunity for family reunification. As described by Humanium, some children find their families and loved ones, and are able to live in ‘a more secure environment’. Migration can also transform a child’s life prospects; the chances of obtaining good-quality work are substantially improved, and they are provided with access to a high standard of education and the ‘services they need for their development’.
The participation of migrants in the education system is something that also brings considerable benefits for the UK. Students from overseas have a hugely positive effect on the economy, with 500,000 people from 200 countries coming to the UK each year to study. The ExEdUK pressure group estimates that overseas students directly contribute around £11.8bn to the UK economy. Universities have warned that their finances would come under severe strain if there was a clampdown on inflows. These figures evidence the mutually beneficial relationship that can exist between migrants and the host country. Migration provides young people with access to a high standard of education and an array of opportunities, whilst stimulating the UK economy and driving growth. If information such as this was readily available, it is plausible to suggest that attitudes towards immigration would be somewhat different.
Young migrants also enrich the host country through the innovative, new ideas they introduce. This is one of the less tangible benefits of immigration, yet it is of immense importance and a major contributing factor to our position on the world stage. Because immigrants come from a wide variety of regions, they provide a wealth of diverse wisdom that might not otherwise be obvious to British people. Immigration prevents the UK from stagnating; a tremendous amount of linguistic opportunities is created by our increasingly diverse migrant population. There are an estimated 300 languages spoken in the UK on a daily basis. As a result, young people in the UK are growing up exposed to different languages from an early age, something that is hugely conducive to second language acquisition. Rather than our culture being destroyed by immigration, it is enriched and diversified through the alternative ideas and perspectives it introduces.
With every inflammatory, scaremongering story that is spun by the media, innocent migrant children are disrespected. They have no control over the circumstances that make migration necessary, yet are characterised as a drain on our economy and as culturally subversive. On the contrary, young migrants benefit the UK in a variety of ways. Similarly, arrival in the UK provides an opportunity for a positive existence to be formed in spite of the tremendous obstacles faced.
Cameron Boyle is a political correspondent for the Immigration Advice Service, an organisation of immigration solicitors that provide legal aid to asylum seekers.