The treatment of migrants in host countries
By Roisin Glancy
Migration has been a resounding factor of postmodernity however the way in which society perceive migration and migrants has been notoriously problematic. Despite the motives for migrants to move to host countries varying massively, there appears to be a common response to those who enter host countries. Immediately these people become marginalised and alienated. Such othering occurs both institutionally and through day-to-day interactions with the public.
Public opinion and thus consequent perception of migrants are moulded by policies implemented by governments. The pervasive disdain rife within political discourse regarding the anxiety around migration has diffused into the general perceptions of societal attitudes. There seems to be sinister stress on the concept of ‘Fortress Europe’. A notion which completely neglects any essence of human kindness or empathy. Politicians have turned migrants into a resource of exploitation, blame and demonisation.
Eco-nativists greenwash their implicit racism through blaming the climate crisis on the increasing migration. The conservative rights bizarre acceptance of pseudoscience consequence in the use of migrants as a causation for climate change and allows them to plea for restrictions on migration ability. Despite scientists implicitly evidencing that there is no correlation between climate change and US immigrant communities], Conservatives use the climate crisis to legitimise their xenophobia and as a vessel to project white supremacy.
There appears to be an implication that migration is a potential threat to host country’s cultural identity and migrants are possible catalysts of social upheaval. The stress on the importance of the English language as seen through citizenship tests is rooted in colonial ideology. The use of the English language as a means to negate who defines as a citizen and who defines as a migrant has massive colonial undertones and ultimately enacts as a tool of polarising differentiation.
Migrants are seen as a threat to the ‘British way of life’, “Never mind that Britain has a German royal family, a Norman ruling elite, a Greek patron saint, a Roman/Middle Eastern religion, Indian food as its national cuisine, an Arabic/Indian numeral system, a Latin alphabet and an identity predicated on a multi-ethnic, globe-spanning empire’ (Akala, 2018)- The irony is REAL!!!
If not objectified as vessels of terror, migrants are seen as victims in desperate need of saving form the western world. Medias construction of the ‘climate refugee’ is entrenched in a massive white western saviour complex. Such binary depictions universalise migrants into either vessels of threat or victimisation, suffocating them into passive, vulnerable categories and furthering their alienation from wider society.
This western saviour complex is immediately contradicted and juxtaposed by the sinister reality which is the ACTUAL treatment of immigrants in their host countries.
It’s essential to keep at the forefront that not all migrant women are the same and have shared experiences and thus it would be reductive and ignorant to group them, however it is conspicuous that a lot of migrant women are treated awfully by host countries.
Akin to the colonial saviour complex apparent in host countries attitude towards migrants, such attitudes are especially prevalent in the experience of migrant women. Throughout the media and political discourse the ‘racialised migrant family’ is constantly depicted- a hyper-patriarchal structure where migrant women are illustrated as passive and subject to oppression via their husbands. Such dangerous and grouping assertions contribute to the depiction of migrants as threat to ‘civil society’. In saying this there is a major gap in care for migrant women who have experienced domestic abuse, showcasing the performative use of the media in stressing the victimhood of migrant women.
Post 9/11, societal perceptions of Muslim people, in particularly Muslim women drastically became problematic. Within the western world, the veil worn by some Muslim women was immediately equated with terrorism and a symbol of threat to ‘western society’. Muslim women were hounded by the media, labelled as dangerous and criminal. The veil was seen as a catalyst for ‘go back to where you came from’ rhetoric, projecting the dangerous ‘other’ concept.
Charities like ‘Sistah space’ for migrant women are a beacon of hope for the treatment of migrants in host countries, however the mere fact that such charities need to be established clearly demonstrates the abhorrent institutional neglect of these women within mainstream society.
The same way in which society blamed migrants for the climate crisis, they blamed migrants for terrorism too. Obvious pattern of blame and scapegoating indicate that governments clearly find it easy to negate responsibility and divert attention away from their responsibilities regarding the climate crisis and terrorism- reducing migration ability instead of limiting fossil fuels appears massively more Politically palatable.
It appears easier for the media as well as those in power to penalise and blame those already in marginalised positions rather than themselves or the filthy rich- maybe 140+ private jets taken to the super Bowel might be something of interest?