Immigration: a Political or Racial issue?

As the eyes of the political world are on America and the presidential election it seemed the right time to take a step back and ask how the result could affect immigration issues in the UK.

In short: it doesn’t.

That’s not being obtuse, but realistically there will not be a direct effect on the practical immigration issues for the UK.  However, what is worth considering is how politicised immigration has become, especially in the shadow of the Brexit result, and throughout the US presidential election campaign.

Donald Trump has made feathers ruffle by referring to Mexicans as rapists and proposing a wall that sounded more like the Berlin wall of segregation than anything else.  He also proposed the idea of stopping Muslims from entering the US.  Clearly these were deliberately inflammatory statements, and it is hard to cut through his hyperbole to know just how sincere his bigotry is.

Immigration and Race – Weapons of Election

What has become very clear is that race is now being used as a key topic or “weapon” in the arsenal of political dialogue and propaganda. We were just as candid in the UK when words like “swarm” were used to describe immigrants coming to the UK. The media also likely to stir up misconceptions about economic migrants and refugees, fuelling exactly the fears that the likes of UKIP lap up and bark back in debates.

The worldwide movement of people has an unsettling history when it comes to relations between the UK and the US.  The slave trade is one uncomfortable example that cannot be ignored, but without entering into the complex social debate, it stemmed as much from economics as it did from ideology. It’s pragmatism was one of the most deplorable things about it.

Now we are faced with potentially seeing a new leader of the most powerful nation in the world being a man who seems content with slinging racial slurs around as a kind of currency. It is as if it is simply okay for him to be so inciting and hateful just because he is campaigning. Is it any more acceptable as a political discussion?  Is the line between political dialogue and racial comment becoming blurred?

The modern world is a constantly mobile one, where international communication is as instant as it is to our next door neighbour.  We have a 24/7 society in many countries, and technology affords us great scope to share – and sometimes abuse – life anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.

It would be naïve to ignore a potential significant change in the social and socio-political make-up of the USA; it would be foolish to think this presidential election result doesn’t have the potential to affect us all in some ripple-effect way.