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I am an immigrant. I emigrated from the United States to the United Kingdom on the 12th of December 1971.

I had studied for a year in Britain 18 months before and fell in love with the country and one of its citizens and moved back despite the dreary weather and traffic jams.

I did not flee a Middle Eastern War. I did not turf up at Heathrow claiming political persecution. Neither was I escaping a life of poverty in an African mud hut.  In fact, if I had stayed in America I would probably be enjoying a comfortable country club existence.

Nevertheless, I feel an affinity with African, Asian, Hispanic, or any person from any race or country who left their homeland to seek a new life.  It is not easy to leave the safety net of cultural  familiarity, and family ,and friends.

If you are born to a country your acceptance is automatic. As an immigrant you have to constantly prove your worth and justify your decision to uproot your entire life and start afresh.

I feel I have succeeded. I started an international news agency which launched the careers of well over a hundred journalists. My children are all a credit to me as are the 200 boys—many of them now young men– who have passed through my scout group over the past 17 years.

I am not boasting. In fact, I don’t regard myself as particularly unusual. Immigrants in every country have outstanding records of contributing to their adopted homelands.

Think about it, by their very nature immigrants have proven through their actions that they are risk takers. They are adventurers. They are focused, determined and prepared to work hard to achieve their aims.  Such people are assets to any community lucky enough to have them.

Just ask the American shareholders of Ebay, Google, Intel, Yahoo and Sun Microsystems. They are all grateful to the immigrants who started the businesses which keep them in their gated communities and on their expensive golf courses.  According to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants started 25% of  America’s businesses financed by venture capital.

Here is another statistic for you, according to the US Small Business Administration, immigrants are 18 percent more likely to start a business than native born Americans.  On top of that, those small businesses in 2015 employed 4.7 million Americans.

Donald Trump in America and populists across Europe claim immigrants are sucking their countries dry.  Well, according to a report from University College London—one of the world’s top educational establishments—between 2004 and 2014 immigrants from the European Union put $15 billion more into the British economy than they took out.  In fact,  the ethnic group which took out more in benefits than it put in was the native-born Brits who—over the same period—cost their country an estimated $700 billion more in welfare, education and health benefits than they paid in taxes.

And what about the millions of aliens that Trump plans to deport? Well, according to the US Immigration Policy Centre,  Latinos spent $1.5 trillion in 2015 and the Asians $775 billion. Of course, most of these people are legal, but still it is clear that if he has his way Trump will send a lot of money to the other side of his wall.

Opposition to immigration is not just based on cash. There is also a strong argument that they are undermining native cultures. It is true that people bring customs across borders. My family, for instance, make a point of celebrating Thanksgiving. Every year we invite our British friends and thank them for making us welcome. Some have adopted the custom.

Successive waves of immigrants have all been villified as cultural contaminants.  The Irish and Poles were attacked as heathen Catholics. Italian immigrants were accused of stealing jobs. The Chinese and Japanese were lumped together as “The Yellow Peril.” But somehow they  have all been absorbed into the overarching American culture while at the same time contributing their own customs which help to keep America the vibrant and exciting country that it is.

Tom Arms is editor of


3 Comments on "I Am An Immigrant"

  1. The reports like that from UCL or indeed the report that rebutted it’s findings using the same methodology by Migrationwatch are to a large degree pointless.

    They don’t take into account the infrastructure spending needed to accommodate an extra 2.5 million people or the effect that sharing a small island with an extra 2.5 million people has on peoples every day lives.

    Say you live in a poor area and rents in that area go up by 20% over two years and during that time you see lots of foreigners moving into the area, then you make a link. Equally if the wages at your factory fail to rise over two years and you see lots of foreigners joining the workforce, with more on the waiting list for jobs, you make another link. In both cases you feel migration has made you worse off.
    The £1.5bn per year that those people have put into the British economy will be money that you are unlikely to have seen the benefit of. At £50 per year per member of the British workforce then the benefit may only have equalled the cost of wage suppression in any case.

    On the other side of the coin if you have a few quid then you find it’s easier and cheaper to get a builder, au pair, cleaner.
    If your an employer your labour costs haven’t risen and you have workers who are keen as mustard and don’t grumble and kick off like the natives.
    If you are a landlord your property is never empty, your yield has gone up.
    And if you visit coffee shops frequently the barista’s are ever so lovely.

    How people feel about migration depends on their own experience of it, personally I think that controlled migration is a positive thing. The free for all mass migration of recent times is absolutely, not due to the pressures and tensions it creates. I have been a short term migrant myself and was always very conscious that I was a guest in someone elses country, that I would never be a native.

    A final word on the natives costing more than they paid in taxes. The majority of that cost is pensions and healthcare for the elderly who are the people who have shaped this country into what it is today. As such the migrants that come here are reaping the benefits from their former labour while adding their own contribution.

  2. I am an immigrant. I was born in the UK of Irish parents and I have spent most of my working career travelling the world. No matter where I was I was made welcome, sometimes with a smile and sometimes with a helping hand, in return I respected the laws and traditions of countries I visited and I never had a problem.

    I will not return to the United States of America, either for work or pleasure. Apart from being photographed and fingerprinted like a common criminal my laptop and phone could be examined and investigations could be made into my social media history. There is also the intrusive background checks and the always present risk that despite all the precautions and the vetting I would be prevented from boarding the aircraft or get turned back at the border by the TSA.

    The USA is now no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. Their political system is broken and they have a buffoon running the country . I wish them luck in their new isolation.

    • Last time I went to the US I got “hmmm Indonesia” from border control and some raised eyebrows at some of my middle eastern stamps but that was about it.

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