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Why do migrants want to come to the UK?

(39 Posts)
Fizzielove Mon 25-Jan-16 10:42:18

Why in particular is the UK seen as the place to go? Surely other EU countries give migrants as much as they would get in the UK? £36 a week doesn't make sense to me to make thousands of people want to come here (alongside housing, NHS, education, etc.)

alltouchedout Mon 25-Jan-16 10:46:25

Your reference to £36 suggests you are confusing refugees with migrants. Perhaps you could read up on the issues a bit?

ZiggyFartdust Mon 25-Jan-16 10:47:46

Probably doesn't make sense to you because you don't know anything about it. Perhaps you could read a few newspapers, watch a documentary or something?

Fizzielove Mon 25-Jan-16 10:50:27

All I ever read or see is negative press. They don't explain the reason why say staying in France / Belgium / Spain is not as good as coming to the UK IYSWIM. And yes sorry I meant refugees like the people living in the jungle in Calais.

OttiliaVonBCup Mon 25-Jan-16 10:52:09

Language, big grey economy and misinformation.

glueandstick Mon 25-Jan-16 10:53:52

Because around the world the UK is seen as safe and prosperous. A British passport is the key to the world (well... We're doing our best to pee every other country off so perhaps not for much longer!) As much as everyone whines about it, we have a stable political system, healthcare, a welfare system, education for all and don't tend to suffer from a lot of natural disasters. It's fairly easy to see why you would want to come here. Whether or not we should let everyone in is a massive can of worms.

angelos02 Mon 25-Jan-16 10:55:10

I think alot of people abroad think the UK is mostly pretty little villages where everyone has a great standard of living. Which is obviously bollocks.

glueandstick Mon 25-Jan-16 10:56:43

Also we speak English. So much TV, film and music is exported that many people are exposed to it and with that make the connection to the UK. In France you'll find a lot of Algerians and Senegalese (I hope I've got that right...) as they are French speakers. It makes sense to go to a country where you have a good idea of the language or have been exposed to it.

glueandstick Mon 25-Jan-16 10:57:14

Compared to a lot of the world we have a bloody good standard of living.

gotthemoononastick Mon 25-Jan-16 10:59:21

Certainly from Africa's most Southern to Northern point,trying to escape what has been wrought upon them by cynical politicians chasing the money.

Sadly all voted for by themselves,but tis water under a bridge now.

Fizzielove Mon 25-Jan-16 11:00:21

I appreciate that we do have a good standard of life but surely other EU countries do too?

Whatsinaname2011 Mon 25-Jan-16 11:02:39

Very generous benefits system helps

icanteven Mon 25-Jan-16 11:20:51

Well, they don't, really. That's the thing. The press would have us believe that everybody is simply pour into the country, but if you look at the last 6 - 9 months, they are actually going to Germany, not here.

Take a look at this page - it's a little out of date (figures are for 2014) but the UK is VERY much further down the chart than the Daily Mail would like to think.

Here's another set of data from the World Bank, which is over 5 years, and might give a better snapshot.

The UK is one of the more popular countries, but I think a lot of people have different definitions of migrants. Somebody who is coming here with an MBA or MSc in Engineering to take up a job earning £60k+ is just as much a "migrant" as somebody smuggling themselves on a plane from Senegal.

TriJo Mon 25-Jan-16 11:24:34

(Irish PoV) My husband moved to London to take up a graduate engineering job after 2 years on benefits in Dublin with a masters, there was no work at all when he graduated in 2008. I moved over when we wanted to move in together - I'm a software developer so it's much easier for me to find work pretty much anywhere.

We just did what Irish people have done forever and followed the work.

CuttedUpPear Mon 25-Jan-16 11:25:03

I've been to the camps in Calais and met refugees there.
Many, many of them are more highly qualified than I am and had careers and businesses in their hime countries.

If they could come here and work they would be paying a far higher rate of tax than I or many of my peers do.

ArmchairTraveller Mon 25-Jan-16 11:32:01

'Language, big grey economy and misinformation.'

I think Ottilia is spot on.

LightDrizzle Mon 25-Jan-16 12:15:17

I teach English to refugees (and others but mostly refugees). The main reasons they give for wanting to come to the UK are firstly: that it seen as being a very safe country with low levels of violence, after that there are a range of reasons. Many refugees from Africa have a little English, either from schooling in their country of origin or from ad hoc schooling or exposure in Kenyan refugee camps. Also the UK is rightly seen as having low levels of corruption, this is highly valued by many refugees who have experienced extortion or theft of assets by government officials in their own country. Refugees with children believe that the acquisition of English and access to an English education will give their children the best opportunity in life. French does not have the same prestige as an international language.

MamaLazarou Mon 25-Jan-16 12:16:56

Welfare state, widely-spoken language, safety.

Werksallhourz Mon 25-Jan-16 13:02:09

This is a very interesting question because it is becoming clear that many migrants and refugees have a false idea of what living and working in Britain will be like.

Many of my family members work in areas where they work with migrants and refugees, and it is pretty clear that almost all of them have a gross misunderstanding of life in Britain and the kind of opportunities they can expect. Many seem to be under the impression that Britain is some sort of cross between the world of Harry Potter and James Bond.

DH has come across cases of refugees who are horrified by the places they have found themselves living in, and are desperately trying to be relocated -- and these are not necessarily cases where people have been housed on particularly notorious estates or anything. Put it this way, if you have spent your life in a small town or village in the Middle East and you come to live in a Northern mill town or on the outskirts of a Northern British city, the culture shock alone can be beyond immense. The experience is very isolating; you've no cultural experience of navigating certain situations or behaviours; unless you are fluent in English and can tune into local accents, you can't understand any of the vocal cues around you.

One interesting thing one of my research colleagues found was that many African migrants had a real struggle with reading maps. In many African countries, particularly in smaller towns, ordinary people do not use maps for directions. They use topographical features (go down to the large building with the metal gates, turn left until you reach the bridge etc), so when you give them a map to get somewhere, they don't know how to read it ... so they end up getting somewhere late or not turning up, which then leads to further implications down the line.

Another significant problem is inter-sectarian or inter-ethnic violence in some areas. It's not a great idea to house Kurds in largely Pakistani areas, for example, but government just sees them all as "Muslims that need access to a mosque". The upshot of this idiocy in one case was a refugee who ended up with permanent brain damage after being attacked for being "anti-Saddam". His friends were shocked; they had no idea that they could leave Iraq only to find themselves in pretty much the same predicament in Britain.

Then there was the famous case of the Iraqi interpreter and his family who ended up in a tower block notorious for drug abuse. He had no idea Britain could be like that, and just sank into a severe depression.

I know, as well, that many Poles were shocked at the cost of living in London and that is one reason why so many ended up moving to Peterborough.

Again, my grandmother volunteers with a TESOL group for refugees. She does what she can, but a lot of the refugees have no chance of ever being fluent enough in English to be able to get anything other than manual work.

The thing is that life in Britain for pretty much 80 percent of the British born population is not easy (80 percent is everyone that earns under about £40k a year). The cost of living is high, jobs can be few and far between, transport is tricky outside urban centres (ie. you'll probably need a car). I really believe the government ought to start a campaign that is honest about life in Britain for most Brits.

AllTheMadmen Mon 25-Jan-16 13:08:32

I agree werks and urgently.

EssentialHummus Mon 25-Jan-16 13:14:42

As a (legal) migrant, my draws were the language, ease/availability of jobs and a stable judiciary and government. From working with and meeting asylum seekers and refugees a little bit I think very few plan to come over, rake in benefits and have a zillion kids - it's a regularly perpetuated stereotype.

GiddyOnZackHunt Mon 25-Jan-16 13:19:54

What makes you think so many do want to come here? Our border is less porous than a land border so you get the gathering of migrants and refugees. If it were a land border there wouldn't be a camp, they'd come across it in ones or twos.

MaisyMooMoo Mon 25-Jan-16 13:23:41

I was asked a colleague what attracted her to come and work in the UK. She said 'go back to my country and you'll find out'. She came from Barbados. I don't know anything about Barbados but she said we don't know how lucky we are. We whinge about benefits, the NHS etc but we should be thankful we have them.

MaisyMooMoo Mon 25-Jan-16 13:24:04

*once asked

PausingFlatly Mon 25-Jan-16 13:30:15

Answer Number 1 is, as a PP says, the UK isn't the particular place to go.

You're in the UK, and UK media talk about the UK, so that's what you hear.

In Denmark, the Danish media talk about Denmark. In South Africa, the South African media talk about South Africa.

So your picture is always skewed to the country you're in.

But secondly of those who do actively chose the UK, some of it is about language and assumed familiarity of culture, because people will have grown up with the legacies of British colonial education, legal systems and media connections. All of which tend to puff the UK as some sort of superior example to the world. Similarly, people from former French colonies will tend to prefer France (but again those people won't get mentioned in UK newspapers).

Like Werksallhourz, I've had to deal with people's shock when they see what it's really like: friends and family in my case.

They were shockshockshock, and then more shockshockshock, and then sad at life here, even when they were just visiting for temporary contracts.

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