Using toxic language around immigration helps no-one

The wife of an Albanian resident on why the language used around immigration needs to change

Tom and Paige Ballmi
Tom and Paige Ballmi

As I scroll through TikTok, it pains me to see video after video of TV presenters, journalists and politicians branding migrants as criminals. It pains me even more to see videos of people justifying their existence in this country, after Albanians became the latest minority group to be used by the government as scapegoats.

Home Secretary Suella Bravermen stood in parliament and said that boats crossing the English Channel with Albanian citizens on board amounted to an “invasion” of the UK. This is despite the Home Office insisting that each and every case is considered on its own merits.

The use of this language by a senior government minister is extremely toxic and, with the power of the repetition, this is no doubt going to lead to a rise in hate crime towards Albanian citizens. Using words like “invasion” when talking about humans, who have hopes and dreams for a better life just like you and I, doesn’t help anyone in this situation.

Whether these are genuine refugees or not; it’s not for us to decide. The good migrant/bad migrant argument has only ever proved to be unhelpful, and takes the focus away from the main concern of creating a safe route for all migrants and a fair asylum system.

Why must we talk of humans this way? We must recognise that the tone of this language is going to have a tremendous impact on the way migrants are treated in this county. It was only a few years ago that my Albanian husband said to me he had never experienced racism until he came to the UK – it was then I realised we are not the tolerant nation we claim to be.

It’s important to remember that a dinghy full of Iranian citizens fleeing conflict, and a dinghy full of Albanian citizens fleeing whatever – be it an LGBTQ hate crime, be it poverty, be it a blood feud or be it domestic violence (all of which are very prevalent in Albania) – all these people are processed the same, and most are given asylum.

The migration system in this country has been broken in this country for a very long time, despite the answers being right under the noses of policy makers and politicians for years on end now. It’s time we acknowledge that people move, and always have done. We must stop letting this hateful conduct create a divide and come together to create the welcoming nation we want to be.

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