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Celebrities Condemn Government’s “Inhumane” Plans To Deport migrants To Rwanda.

Érica Sarmiento, Immigration Studies Laboratory (Labimi/UERJ)

When Gary Lineker decries ‘immeasurably cruel policy’ in response to Suella Braverman’s immigration bill, several Hollywood celebrities have raised their voices to talk about the migration issue.

Refugee Council made this film in collaboration with David Schneider and the support of actors, writers and poets Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep, Sylvester Stallone, David Harewood, Daniel Radcliffe, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Luke Evans, Benjamin Zephaniah and David Morrissey.

Le Gist spoke with Erica Sarmiento da Silva immigration and migration specialist in an open converastion. Erica Coordinates the Immigration Studies Laboratory (UNIVERSO).

Do you think that immigration has any positive aspects and if so, how would you define them?

– I believe that immigration is a positive thing. I think that interculturality is always a positive thing. It’s always good to be able to understand others as this helps us to accept differences, and we are always enriched by the processes of exchange that take place at all levels during cultural and linguistic discussion.

Immigration is a process that always enriches the society that receives the immigrants. Thanks to remittances (remittances are the earnings which emigrants send back to their country of origin), we can cite many examples of societies that have developed thanks to the remittances of their citizens.

It is a shame that there are a few migrations that are motivated by purely personal reasons such as job opportunities, and this is the negative side to immigration. Unfortunately, many of these people get stuck in the process of trying to reclaim their lives.

The United Nations Population Division estimates that around 140 million migrant women worldwide have left their home countries in search of a better life.

Immigration is often seen as a terrible problem. Do you think that the media plays a fundamental role in determining how the image of immigrants is constructed?

– Immigration can turn into a crisis when it’s seen as a terrible problem, depending on how the media presents information about it. Many countries make a lot of noise about their immigration situation.

For example, in countries where the media says that there’s a migration crisis, I automatically assume that people think that immigration is a negative thing due to the simple fact that they are using that word (crisis).

This means that the press has a very powerful tool: control over narrative and communication.

Nowadays we have social media, which has its own advantages and disadvantages: on the one hand, information gets through very quickly, but on the other hand people don’t just read conventional media, they have a greater diversity of options, which they receive on their mobiles and filter according to what they want, what suits them or what they like.

Depending on your use of narrative, you can cause society to throw up a defence against immigration.

Simply by using the word illegal, they already twisting the truth, because it implies being outside the law, so this person is automatically a criminal who has committed a crime.

People have the right to come and go as they please, but when they come up against a wall or a border, they are not criminals. This is distorting the situation, blaming the person for the situation in which they find themselves.

For example, when the media shows immigrants in detention centres, they are showing isolated incidents of robbery, It’s important to look at the statistics. To cite another example, when people talk about unemployment in their country, they say that immigrants are stealing their jobs, but what are they actually basing this statement on?.

People think that immigration is a negative thing due to the simple fact that they are using that word (crisis).

We have to look at the migrant women, and look at what jobs they do, then look at the overall population and the unemployment figures for both groups and then we can create a picture of what’s happening, where the immigrants are and what jobs they are doing. We need to carry out a research investigation and look at the data in terms of the overall population.

Women immigrants have played a dynamic role transforming the new country, socially, politically, and economically.

Do you agree that the first barrier to integration is education?.

Education is key, and schools must be equipped to receive children who are refugees or immigrants. School is often the first place where families are welcomed, and come into contact with teachers and with other families. Immigrant children are a very important integration tool, because by going to school they learn the language and bring it home with them, and so schools need to be prepared to fight against xenophobia, racism, LGTB and all other kinds of bullying.

Erica Sarmiento da Silva coordinates the Immigration Studies Laboratory and the Iberian Studies Laboratory (UNIVERSO).


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