Immigrants deserve to be valued, not vilified

The excellent article by Gaby Hinsliff (The Tories should be proud of Britain’s migration numbers – and they have Boris Johnson to thank, 25 May) and your editorial (25 May) together encapsulate the necessary reframing of the tired numbers-driven immigration debate that has gone on unchallenged for decades.

The bipartisan political and media-amplified consensus that immigration is a problem needing to be controlled should be robustly challenged as these articles have done - as has Sadiq Khan by recently saying London needs more, not less, immigration.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer and Yvette Cooper have been lamely agreeing that net migration numbers are too high. The failure to challenge this fundamentally nationalistic and racist rhetoric fuelled the Brexit vote, Britain’s biggest postwar failure. To avoid further such defeats, Labour must have the courage to defy the xenophobic rightwing press and break the consensus. They must champion the benefits of immigration and expose the cynical hypocrisy of Tories realistically encouraging overseas visas while ideologically decrying their numbers. This shift would in fact reflect the changing grain of popular opinion.
Gideon Ben-Tovim
University of Liverpool

• The sound and fury over immigration is utterly wretched. I am an immigrant. I came here to study more than 20 years ago, and stayed on – to work, study some more, and then with settled status as the spouse of a British citizen. The vitriol over immigration makes me feel more unwelcome now than at any time since I moved here. I wonder if those who recently took care of me as I had surgery feel the same way? Almost every step of my care involved people who I think moved here as adults. I could not have asked for more professional care. And this is the thanks those professionals get: the “there are too many of you lot clogging up the system” venom, when in reality they are the ones propping up the whole edifice.
Priyanjali Malik

• Three cheers for Aditya Chakrabortty’s timely article on the positive value of immigration (First it was no to Polish plumbers, then Afghan refugees. Now the right doesn’t want any migrants at all, 25 May). I like to list how immigrants or the children (and now possibly grandchildren) of immigrants enable and enhance my life and lifestyle. They deliver my morning paper (the Guardian, of course); drill, fill and maintain what’s left of my teeth; dispense my prescriptions; clean my car; run my favourite restaurant; provide about half of my NHS treatment, the vicar and about two-thirds of the choir at the church I attend; my regular hiking companion; some thoughtful articles in the Guardian, and much more. Grateful thanks to them all.
Peter Wrigley
Birstall, West Yorkshire

• It is not just my family name that makes me favour immigration; living in Cambridge proves how valuable it can be. In a lecture at Darwin College in March 2018, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan described the ancestry of the directors of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge.

The first four directors were immigrants. The laboratory staff have won 16 Nobel prizes, and more than half the winners were immigrants.

It is now hard for companies to pay immigrants enough to get them here. If “taking all our houses” is a threat, let us see a lot more of it.
Laurie van Someren

• I was going through my change when I came upon a 50p piece from the year 2020. The coin was inscribed with the message “Diversity built Britain”. So much has changed in the last three years.
Peter Dewar

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