Open Borders Scotland are supporting the 1 Day Without Us: National Day of Action on 20th of February. We are actively working with the Dumfries (South West Scotland) campaign. We reproduce their working statement below.
Working Statement – 1 Day Without Us: Dumfries
Politicians like Theresa May and Nigel Farage say that immigrants are foreigners. We say that immigrants are real people. They are living human beings who have hopes and dreams. They are neighbours and friends. They are parents and children. They are doctors and teachers, carers and carpenters.
Immigrants from outside the UK are a tiny proportion of the population of Dumfries and Galloway (less than 2%). Many of these immigrants help to make the region a better place to live in. Fifteen years ago it was almost impossible to register with an NHS dentist in Dumfries and Galloway. Today, everyone can have an NHS dentist, thanks to immigrants. Do we really want to return to the days when NHS dentists were as rare as hen’s teeth?
Immigrants enrich the life of Dumfries and Galloway. You might prefer Chinese noodles to Indian curry, or Italian pizza to Turkish kebab. But, whichever you prefer, its good to have a wider variety to choose from.
Without immigrants we would have fewer doctors, nurses or consultants. Without immigrants we would have fewer care workers or barbers. Without immigrants we’d have less variety in our schools. Immigrants open up windows to other parts of the world and help us to see our common humanity, within our our enormous diversity.
May, Farage and other anti-immigrant public figures blame immigrants for taking money away from the NHS. Across the UK the NHS is in crisis, but it is not in crisis because of immigrants. It is in crisis because of the policies of successive governments. Junior doctors did not go on strike because of immigrants, they went on strike because of the work conditions that the government was trying to impose. We have immigrant doctors and nurses because successive governments have failed to invest in training more, not because immigrants are coming here to steal jobs. Farage and his fellow Leave campaigners told us to vote for Brexit and we could spend the money that currently goes to Brussels on the NHS instead. When a majority voted for Brexit they back-pedalled. They said the NHS was just an example. They didn’t actually mean that the money would go to the NHS. Politicians play politics with our health, while immigrant doctors and nurses take care of the elderly, help us when we are ill and save our lives. We should not let politicians scapegoat immigrants as the problem. We should hold them to account for the problems that they create.
The UK is in a mess. Public services, and those who work in them, are being squeezed. Many of us are feeling the pain of austerity. Immigrants are not to blame for this pain. Immigrants played no part in the Financial Crash of 2007-08. Immigrants did not spend billions, yes billions!!!, of taxpayers money bailing out the banks that caused the Crash. Immigrants did not create the Great Recession that followed. When the Crash happened it wasn’t immigrants who said that we need to tighten our belts, it was politicians and employers. It was the same politicians who awarded themselves pay rises. It was the same politicians who defended multi-million pound bonuses for big financiers in the City of London. These people live in a different world to us, a world that is foreign to us. We have far more in common with the average immigrant than we do with the average politician or wealthy businessman (and yes, they are usually men). Don’t let them scapegoat the immigrants who live on our streets, who work in our towns, who rub shoulders with us every day of the week.
On the 20th of February we have an opportunity to say “immigrants are part of our lives, we want them to stay”. We have a chance to spread hope and love, not fear and hate. Together, immigrants and locals, we can say no to scapegoating and yes to a world that puts human-beings before profit