Although I cannot speak much of economics, I can testify to the social benefits of immigration
I find it heart-warming to see the message “Tourists go home, immigrants welcome” plastered around the streets of Barcelona. It seems to mark a new attitude towards the whole phenomenon of immigration in these parts and contrasts markedly with my native culture's newly adopted policy of tighter controls. We can only guess at the amount of lasting damage done by UKIP's ignorant bleating of “No more immigrants, they only harm the economy and society.” Such uninformed prejudice ignores all the social good that mass immigration has brought to the UK over the years in the form of increased cultural diversity, tolerance and mutual understanding. And as for economic good, what about filling vacant skilled workers jobs that would have cost billions to cover in education, lowering the age of the workforce, and increasing both the demand for and supply of labour, thereby increasing the country's overall economic welfare?
George Orwell, much admired in Catalonia for obvious reasons, was already writing about all this back in post-war Britain: “The fact is that there is strong popular feeling in this country against foreign immigration. It arises from simple xenophobia, partly from fear of undercutting in wages, but above all from the out-of-date notion that Britain is overpopulated and that more population means more unemployment.” The celebrated author and journalist wrote the above in 1946 in a series of articles published by British left-wing newspaper Tribune. “In the end it is doubtful whether we can solve our problems without encouraging immigration... In a tentative way the Government has already tried to do this, only to be met by ignorant hostility, because the public has not been told the relevant facts beforehand”, he adds.
Although I cannot speak much of economics, I can testify to the social benefits of immigration. Over the past year or so I have filled in for Nicole Millar on her Punt Avui TV chat show Small Talk, interviewing English-speaking foreigners who live in Catalonia, and through it I have met a whole array of people from different backgrounds, especially Africa and South America, who greatly enrich their newly adopted culture. To give just a few examples, singers Joe Psalmist and Simonal Bie, from Nigeria and Mozambique respectively, Botswana-born singer songwriter Anita Zengeza, Georgian poet, activist and political exile Irakli Kakabadze, South Korean artist Hye Young Yu, Michelle Barrios, from Panama, who is a visual designer and founder of a roller dance festival, Japanese artist Kota Nomi, “sugarcrafter” Patricia Schmidt from Brazil, and German organ builder and restorer Gerhard Grenzing; the list goes on.
Ultimately, my point is that I am proud to live in a place where immigrants are seen as humans who can contribute to making society a richer and more diverse place rather than one where the far right is increasing in popularity, as is the case in so many European countries, not to mention the one where I was born.
As Orwell wrote of Britain in 1946, but which could be applied to any country wanting to grow, “the most necessary step is to… drive home the fact, which has never been properly grasped, that British prosperity depends largely on factors outside Britain .”