Globe, Migrants, Multiculture, United Kingdom

Brexit as seen by an immigrant

Despite concrete evidence to the contrary, right wings parties from all over the world always play the “immigrants are stealing our jobs” card. I witnessed a clear example of that during the 2016 Brexit referendum. Leavers based their entire campaign on immigration.

 

Nathan Raia

 

In 2015, Italy was already in the depths of a full economic crisis and the issue of young people leaving the country was also a problem that the Italian government was ignoring.

It’s absurd to think that a country spends so much money and resources, without giving opportunities and the right support to young graduates who feel they have been left with nothing but an uncertain future. This leads to  large numbers of young Italians leaving the country to seek their fortune abroad. For this and many other reasons, in October of the same year, I took the same decision to leave the safety and comfort of my home and brave the unknown: without even realizing it I arrived in London, a city I had never been to whose language I barely knew at the time.

It was really hard in the beginning. Since my English was very poor, it took me a month to find a job and then, through other people I found out that it usually took around a week to be employed.

Through meeting even more people I also discovered that the job situation in Italy was even worse than what the political class wanted us to believe.

Even today, those few lucky ones who are able to find a job, even if it is full-time, get temporary contracts with  low incomes. After a while they realize it will be impossible to save money and start a family, or to have, at least, a stable job for a few years, so they  have no other option but to leave the country.

Finally, in November of 2015, I started my first job. It was in a Sushi restaurant. Working conditions were terrible.

I had to wake up at 3.30 in the morning to open the kitchen at 5. I couldn’t even take a 5-minute break as this was written into the contract. But all things considered, I was happy. Fully independent.

I soon realized that among the staff there wasn’t even one British person and speaking with my colleagues, mainly Italians and Spanish, I discovered that we foreigners in large part do the jobs that the British don’t feel like doing. It’s the same pretty much everywhere.

Wherever they go, immigrants do the less desirable jobs. A clear example can be seen in Italy where African immigrants go to pick tomatoes in the fields; in our society it is almost unthinkable for an Italian to do that kind of job nowadays.

Despite concrete evidence to the contrary, right wings parties from all over the world always play the “immigrants are stealing our jobs” card.

I witnessed a clear example of that during the 2016 Brexit referendum. Leavers based their entire campaign on immigration. And it worked: so many people believed it without realizing immigrants actually add tremendous value to the countries they’re in, both culturally and economically . With our work, we add generous income to the state’s coffers.

If we imagined a city like London without immigrants, there wouldn’t be many people working in restaurants, bars or even hospitals. That’s because British people rarely choose such career paths. Most of them would rather have a desk job, with significantly better pay .

During the time of the referendum, I changed jobs a few times, from Sushi making to being a kitchen porter in an Italian restaurant – which was terrible as well – to working in a bar. Since then, I’ve come a long way and now I’m studying and writing for The Prisma, following my dream of becoming a journalist.

Working in a bar and coming into contact with many immigrants, I could see with my own eyes the effects of Brexit:  even though it is not in force, it has done damage to European immigration. At the beginning of my bar job we had lots of people, every day, leaving their CVs so whenever someone left, we could choose the next candidate right away. Nowadays, not only is it hard to find personnel for the company I work at, but other companies are also having the same issue.

This is happening because of the impact  of Brexit on the country and maybe also because of unfavourable media reporting; because  people who want to come here from their country fear  they will not find what they’re looking for  so they choose to go elsewhere like Spain or Germany, as these countries are believed to be safer bets.

Moreover, with the election as Prime Minister of Boris Johnson, who will introduce a different system for accepting immigrants with limits on the number of people that the UK will welcome, and basing my considerations also on almost four years of experience, I see the future of London at risk. Fewer immigrants will mean less economic growth, with the possibility that many shops and restaurants will close down.

Also, increased social class division could happen, with the British on one side and immigrants on the other side of the social divide. These are the humble thoughts of a young migrant.

(Photos: Pixabay)

 

 

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