Until 2016, the year of the EU referendum, former British Army officer Nino Singh Judge had not been told to “go home” for decades.
Born in Tanzania to family of British-Indian descent, he moved to the UK in 1978 from Zambia.
“Back in the 1970s it was quite common, you would be chased down the street by thugs asking why you didn’t just go home,” he told PA.
He added: “It was said less and less in the 1980s and 1990s. It reached a point where I almost forgot that the sentiment existed.”
However, Mr Judge believes things are “going backwards to the bad old days”, claiming that he has been “told ‘Paki, go home’ more times since the Brexit vote than in the 10 years before that”.
Mr Judge, who served in the Army for six years, said: “It just makes you feel not wanted in a country that you have embraced as your home. I would have given my life for my country during my time in the Army – I still would.
“What’s worse is it is happening to my children.”
Mr Judge said his twin girls told him recently that they did not want to join in celebrating India day at school: “They didn’t want to stand out, they just wanted to blend in.”
The veteran is just one of thousands of immigrants living in the UK, and one of many from minority backgrounds who say they have been told by members of the public to leave the country they call home.
Discussion of the racist trope resurfaced after US President Donald Trump tweeted telling four female Democratic politicians – all US citizens – to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.
….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
The impending row saw Congress vote to denounce Mr Trump’s comments as racist, though the president has since insisted he does “not have a racist bone in my body”.
Covering the story, BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty, who herself is of Indian and Mauritian heritage, spoke out against the phrase, saying: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.”
I've been told "paki go home" more times since Brexit June 2016 than in th 10 years before that. We are definitely going backwards to the bad old days of the 70s
— Nino Singh Judge (@ninojudge) July 17, 2019
Police officer Serita Blake told PA that despite living in the UK her entire life, she has still been told to “go home” by members of the public.
The 35-year-old, whose grandparents emigrated from Jamaica after the Second World War, said: “I was born in Nottingham, I am British born and bred, what do they mean by that? This is my home.
“My grandfather helped build the M1 – he was asked to move here after the war and my whole family have settled here.”
She said that being a black, female officer also meant she faced criticism from members of the Jamaican-Afro-Caribbean community.
Ms Blake, who had wanted to be an officer since she was 11 years old, said: “I have had people tell me I should be ashamed to be in my uniform, that I am a disgrace to the community.
“So I get it from all sides.”
Another European national, who asked to remain anonymous, said being told to go home was a frequent occurrence during secondary school in Britain.
He said: “I moved to the UK with my mother before I was two years old. I grew up here, with only the occasional visit to my birth country.
“I don’t speak any of that language any more, and I speak English with a native accent. If you didn’t know my name you would never know I wasn’t from here.
“With the rise in social media and people being able to hide behind a keyboard, it’s quite common to hear it online now, especially when commenting on polarising issues like Brexit.”
Meanwhile, Jane Salisbury said her son is “regularly told to ‘go home'” on social media because he has a Polish name, even though he was born in London and his parents were born in London.
She told PA her children have used her English surname when applying for jobs, not their father’s, as they felt having a Polish name was not helping them get interviews.
Ms Salisbury said: “It feels especially sad as when I first married in 1976 my grandfather told us we should change our name as it wasn’t good to have a foreign one, and we laughed at him.
“It seemed beyond the realms of possibility that a name could ever be an issue in Britain.”