Migration and Bordering: The only aliens are us

by | May 5, 2021 | Migration | 0 comments

Image: https://unsplash.com/@ev


By Adam Lau

In the history of colonisation and migration, people have been moving globally to different countries and locations for centuries, in order to discover new lands and to seek a new way of life. Europeans who historically have settled into the ‘New World’ which was particularly the Americas, had not been subjected to borders but rather displaced the inhabitants who were living there. This has been the foundation of the present United States of America, who glorify the pilgrims that first settled in the US and take much pride in their patriotism. The Pilgrims were essentially ‘aliens’ to America, and what is rather ironic is how prevalent the fear of immigration and outsiders is in contemporary society. The fear of people who do not look alike to them and are simply different. This irony is exacerbated by the supposedly progressive movement of racial equality, which through significant events such as the civil right movements, presented a hope of a greater social solidarity and equality in society…yet somehow the world seems to have regressed so much into an age fuelled by fear.

In America, Afro-Americans are still widely subjected to racism, with cases such as George Floyd’s death who was a victim of homicide due to an extremely dangerous and unjustifiable method of restraint, prompted the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, and it’s not the first time where a black life has been lost out of prejudice and fear towards them. Similarly we can see how this concept of racism and prejudice is reflected through border control. 9/11 was the most significant terrorist attack that went down in 21st Century history, being a pervading reminder for many Americans to fear immigrants especially those of Middle-eastern descent. This fear and prejudice is used and enhanced by figures such as President Trump who rationalised increased control and bordering in the example of the Mexican border. He promised the building of the Trump Wall to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico as he along with many Americans blamed them for increased crime rates. But it’s not just in America: it’s in places like the UK where I live! Despite the obvious multicultural society we live in, how we British people view immigrants fearfully and treat them differently is just absolutely shocking.

One of the driving reasons for Brexit in the referendum in 2016 was the fear of immigrants and their ‘taking’ of our jobs. The demonisation of immigrants and immigration was something that was enhanced by political parties like UKIP and further stirred on the hysteria, and no doubt has led to greater feelings of alienation for immigrants. Many families who live in the UK have lived in the UK for more than 1 generation, with people like me who have parents that came from different countries. It is events like these which make me worry about how I am presented in public, whether I will be judged for how I look because of where I may be from and the rise of Covid-19 has not lessened this problem. As a Chinese student born in the UK, isn’t it quite telling how problematic the state of how we treat immigrants and other people of different ethnicities when I fear that I will be targeted for being Chinese simply because the virus originated from China, with that being the only connection I’d have? It’s just absolutely mind boggling this is the case. There were news of several students who have come from abroad that tasted this poor treatment, such as UCL student Jonathan Mok who was attacked while he was walking down Oxford Street on 24th February 2020. He received a bruised eye for speaking up against a group of four men who said things like ‘I don’t want your coronavirus in my country”. A clear declaration for him to leave and take ‘his coronavirus’ away from this country, it is evident that the age of borders is incredibly prevalent through examples of racism and stereotypes like these, with the fear of migrants resulting in behaviour that alienates migrants from the rest of society, even though everyone was once migrants themselves. I count myself lucky, for many people from other countries have attempted to migrate but due to borders, people have not been granted safe passage and forced to go on unseaworthy forms of transport. It has been recorded that 2,863 people were dead or missing as of 25 September and that is a staggering number of people who have died in an attempt to move to other places around the world to build better lives. Hopefully in a society in lockdown where we are forced to maintain our distances with one another, we can truly learn the value of each human life. We aren’t aliens. That we can learn how similar we all are…and how much more positivity and acceptance with each other is needed to make our world a much kinder place while we are all going through this pandemic.


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