‘Today’s migrants are tomorrow’s leaders’

While COVID-19 has been dominating headlines, the European migrant crisis has continued. The English Channel is now a regular crossing point for migrants attempting to reach the UK. According to the BBC, approximately 8,000 migrants have been picked up by officials either in the channel, or having made it to England this year.

While this is staggering, it’s not surprising, given the numbers crossing the continent, only to make camp on the French coast. It’s also incredibly risky. Having been out in a small boat myself, the force of the tides alone is overwhelming, before you even consider that many of these people can’t swim, and are in overloaded boats with small engines.

What sort of person would put themselves in this position, and why, as some commentators are saying, would we simply turn them away?

Today’s migrants are tomorrow’s leaders

Since Roman times people have stood on the shores of what is now France, before crossing the channel. These migrants have changed Britain and defined our national identity. William the Conqueror made England Norman and his descendants have ruled ever since. Iberian Jews and Belgians brought us Fish and Chips, Brunel came from France and with his son, built bridges, railways, tunnels, ships and much more. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s German husband brought with him the tradition of displaying a Tree at Christmas.

You only have to look at the US, a country built by immigrants to see what they can achieve. Donald Trump’s mother was Scottish and his wife is from Slovenia. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple was the child of a Syrian Muslim immigrant to the US. Elon Musk was born in South Africa… I could go on but you get the picture.

Why are Immigrants so influential?

If you think about it, it becomes obvious. Say you live in a country where productivity is low. Do you just carry on trying to make ends meat? Most do, but there is a type of person who takes life by the horns. Your current situation is not optimal, so you will go where you can make the life you believe you deserve. This is high risk, In most cases it involves leaving your family and everything you have behind to start again.

These people have left families, risked life itself to come across an entire continent to live and work on a distant island in the North Sea. They have taken action – I welcome these people. They are the motivated, and have shown tenacity.

They are the hard workers we need, the future entrepreneurs – free thinking, resourceful go getters. They will speak highly of us as a country that gave them opportunity when others did not. We need to give them the chance to make something of themselves, because in the long run they will pay taxes, create jobs, wealth and invest in our country.

You may want to “send them back”, but where would we be without immigrants? Probably living in caves, eating berries, speaking Celtic and worshipping dragons. 

Cllr Ed Schofield

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