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#IAmAnImmigrant campaign to tackle UK xenophobia

© Source: Twitter @MBEGriffiths

Text by Liza MALYKHINA

Latest update : 2015-04-14

A British organisation called Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX) launched an ad campaign Tuesday in an effort to combat growing hostility towards immigrants, in the lead-up to the UK general election.

The “I am an Immigrant” campaign features posters with photos of immigrants, along with their home country and their job in the UK. Some of the highlighted professions include a teacher, nurse and barrister.

According to the campaign website the goal is to “challenge the negative rhetoric against immigrants, celebrate them and provide them with a platform to share their story”.

The campaign encourages immigrants to submit their photos and stories, and to create their own poster. Fifteen immigrants were selected to be photographed by Vogue photographer Philip Volkers and featured on posters now plastered in the London Underground.

The organization then encourages users to take photos of the posters and tweet using the hashtag #IAmAnImmigrant.

Since March 15, the hashtag has been used more than 14,000 times.

Three-quarters of British want reduced immigration

The Movement Against Xenophobia group was launched in reaction to an onslaught of anti-immigration sentiment in the UK. According to a briefing released by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, approximately three quarters of people in Britain are in favour of reducing immigration.

The data, which comes from polls and surveys of adults in Great Britain and the UK conducted by various organizations, shows that over 56 percent of respondents want immigration “reduced a lot”. Compared to other countries, respondents in the UK are also more opposed to immigration in general.

The “I am an Immigrant” crowdfunder campaign (a platform for raising money) surpassed its £44,000 ($64,372.00) goal and raised nearly £55,000 to fund the project. On the crowdfunder site, the group says the issue of xenophobia will only get worse with the coming elections, adding that “the negative rhetoric against immigrants fuelled by populist media has meant the Government is countering this by passing legislation that is increasingly anti-immigrant”.

Immigration has been a major point on the UK campaign agendas for politicians. In 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, promised voters that he would cut migration by the tens of thousands. Then in a 2014 speech, Cameron said, “Immigration benefits Britain, but it needs to be controlled.”

But despite Cameron’s promise to curb immigration, 2015 figures show that immigration numbers were close to 300,000, a significant increase over 12 months, according to the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS report also showed that there was a significant increase in the amount of immigrants coming to the UK from non-EU countries, one of the groups that conservatives wanted to target.

In a statement on the MAX website, the organization says that “migrants make a substantial contribution to the economy, enrich Britain’s culture and improve the standard of its public services”. 

It also calls for the government “to reject the ‘numbers game’ politics of immigration and to pursue an immigration system built on human rights and the needs of the UK”.

 

Date created : 2015-04-14

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