Wednesday 12 September 2012

Those damn immigrants are ruining the country

Today, during lunch, at work, one of the people here (a senior figure) had a little chat with my boss about how immigrants are playing the system and how they are damaging the country. He didn't specifically say "those damn immigrants are ruining England", but it was close enough to trigger an immediate fight/flight response.Words like "economic tourism", "economic flight", "damage to the UK infrastructure", "overcrowding" and "real English/British versus all those people washing in" were mentioned.

For context, this happened in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, in the financial center, in a firm whose workforce seems to consist of at least 50% foreign-born academics. There are French, Germans, Argentinians, Rumanians, Chinese, Spanish, Czech and Russians - and that's just people I know.

It's no secret I couldn't get a job in Germany (thanks to a mini-recession and Germany's inflexible labour market), despite a summa cum laude degree. But it's also no secret that when I came over, the main reason why I got a job here at all was that there aren't enough English people who speak German. In a nation that depends on trade (and Germany being a partner) and overall hub of the European economy, you need German speakers to deal with stuff. Incidentally, the Poles and Turks living in Germany are absolutely priceless when it comes to trading/dealing/communicating with people in Poland and Turkey. It's a growth factor in a global economy, especially for countries that rely on trade relationships rather than natural resources.

It's bizarre to think than any of us damage the economy in any way. I'm paying my taxes. The UK paid nothing in terms of schooling or healthcare or training for the first 30 years of my life. I represent a medium six-figure sum in free gifts from Germany to the UK. Germany paid to raise and train me, but the UK receives all my taxes, the stamp duty when I bought a house, and I've been filling a skill gap for seven years, going on eight (German, editing, grammar).The UK also receives taxes from my self-employment and related economic activity.

In my previous job, we had a Daily Hate reader (nickname for the Daily Mail), also English, who'd every now and then go off on anti-immigrant rants, while being surrounded by an Australian, a Turk, and a German. When I commented that I was an immigrant and felt somewhat amazed at her anti-immigrant stance, she said the immortal lines, "You? You're not one of THOSE immigrants, you can speak proper English!"


And I have not come solely for the purpose of shitting on an English lawn, destroying the English economy, ripping an English job from English hands and mocking the English as they die. Honest, I haven't. My evil immigrant agenda? Work for a living, live in a free tolerant society and get on with my life, which involved doing jobs that the English can't apparently do better, and create stories in the English language that generate income for Her Majesty's Tax & Revenue system.

What shocked me about today's lapse in judgment? The guy in question is a highly intelligent, highly trained  worker in the financial services industry who gets paid for making balanced judgments on complex scenarios (in a foreign-owned company). I liked him. And while he said those things, my boss, herself an immigrant, just nodded and smiled and didn't seem to take any kind of offense.

I'm apparently working in the wrong place, and I'll be remedying this as soon as possible. Maybe I can get into a different department, but I don't feel welcome or respected here anymore. The good thing about us evil immigrants? We are very flexible, and we can always leave to places that do respect us.


  1. I had to deal with a similar situation emigrating from the U.K. to the U.S. People here like to rant about immigrants too. I pointed out that I'm an immigrant as well on several occasions, and the response is always, "well, we don't mean you." Usually followed by a rant about Mexicans not speaking the language etc. It's unspoken but they clearly meant "you're white". Immigration rants are just poorly disguised racism.

    One lady I worked with spent about 25 mins the one day ranting about Puerto Ricans stealing our jobs.... I quite enjoyed pointing out that they're actually U.S. citizens. Ironically two hours later she got laid off with a bunch of other employees.

    Good luck finding a better job, but sadly people are like that all over the world. It's quite depressing.

    1. Great comment! I would have loved to be there to see her face when she realized that Puerto Rico is a part of the U.S!

  2. I hope you find a good and supportive work environment. I am always astounded by the desire to blame and scapegoat that some people have. They seem only to feel good or in control, or something... if they are shitting on other people. I also wonder if there is envy at work; that is, that immigrants have an energy and get up and go that complainers don't have/