Immigrants

I am an advocate of integration of all immigrants into Irish society irrespective of where they originate. Canvassing in campaigns is very instructive. Racism and xenophobia is a common experience at doorsteps. You all probably know that immigrants come here and get welfare, free housing of rent allowance, free cars and mobile phones. I get anonymous letters containing cuttings on beggars, foreigners and other issues. Why remain hidden? What are you afraid of? That I will publish your opinions and rants here? I welcome immigrants here and they will add hugely to this nation in the future. Ireland is a melting pot of cultures over many centuries. I am a bit of a four sided Paddy myself being the grandson of a Tormey, Dunne, Sexton and Hill. My family tree to 1790 is largely complete and I welcome the new Irish. Political parties in Ireland avoid own goals in elections where “delicate” issues are concerned. I will never renege on my personal integrity.

The article below is from the Irish Times.

Main political parties turn deaf ear to immigrants
OPINION : Indifference towards 10 per cent of the population is shocking, writes PRIYA RAJASEKAR
THE PARTY campaign plans are out and I have a bad, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. After running a keyword search on “immigrant” and “immigration”, I am staring at a stunning nothingness!

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael blueprints are returning empty fields and while Labour has something, the two documents thrown up by the “policy search centre” date back to 2006 and 2000 respectively. I am stumped at the indifference towards 10 per cent of the population, many of whom, me included, will be part of the electorate for the first time this election.
The journey this far has not been easy. To have left home and hearth behind in exchange for a better life, only to realise that we are now in a tunnel closed on either side fills us with fear and apprehension. This “you don’t exist as far as we are concerned” stance is the knock-out blow.
Or is it? After an excruciatingly long wait, thousands of immigrants like me who came in at the start of the last decade will have a voice and a vote this time. With party destinies dependent on slim margins, our votes will be decisive and for that reason, we would like to make it count. They can ignore us at their peril. But for anyone out there listening, here is the general drift of what could make a difference.
An immigration policy: true that the days of predominant immigration are behind us, replaced by the pain of emigrating youngsters. Still, those left behind need a transparent and humane policy. A clear policy that is fair to asylum seekers and treats foreign students and economic migrants as people to be valued rather than mere economic commodities.
An atmosphere that encourages integration: on this one the main parties have gotten off to a wrong start by omission. Immigrants are not just humanitarian commitments or economic factors. As professionals, subject experts and embodiments of global cultures, immigrants should be included at the highest levels of public office and policymaking.
Stability: this begins with “inclusion”, especially in future plans and policy. From the outset, immigrants have been treated as temporary threats at worst and a necessary but dispensable evil at best. Now, with the mortgage crisis pressurising thousands of immigrants who have no future here, the Government has to provide for economic and social stability of immigrants.
Recognition: Ireland places a huge premium on its corporate tax, blind in the belief that it is solely the lower rate of tax that attracts the world’s best companies. This, despite the fact that a few have openly admitted that the presence of skilled workers from across the globe is an all-important component. The covert racism that stunts the career growth of thousands of skilled immigrant workers has to end. Moreover, the redressal begins with the recognition that this malaise exists.
The blueprints and party manifestos have grand designs to promote tourism, encourage foreign investment, attract international students and forge global business links. But in the absence of support from its immigrants who also serve as ambassadors to Ireland, the best laid plans can go horribly wrong, an opportunity Ireland cannot afford to miss now.
Equality: equality of opportunity in health, education, employment and social security affecting the most vulnerable sections of society. Be it the pensioners’ right to a secure retirement, a child’s right to the best education irrespective of economic, cultural or ethnic background or the right to timely healthcare, equality should be the cornerstone of future policy.
From creative schoolchildren to renowned experts, we seem to have considered it in terms of identifying the problem: not enough schools, a health system bursting at the seams, rising crime, a mortgage crisis and a fall in global reputation as indicated, among others, by Vanity Fair.
Problem-identification and blame-mongering have been our obsessive, compulsive passion this past year and laid side by side our collective grievances would circumnavigate the globe. We have also reached saturation point with blaming the Government, world economy, banks, immigrants, optimists, speculators, media and even the dead, God bless their souls.
The flavour of the coming fortnight will inevitably be rhetoric. We will let politicians charm us, we will luxuriate in the promise of their words and the scale of their ambition and we may briefly believe what they say until the narcotic effect of their words wears off.
But in the end, vote we must. And this time each one of us counts. Even us immigrants, conspicuous by our absence from Ireland’s future plans, as seen through the eyes of the main political parties. And vote we will, in return for inclusion, equality, positive change and leadership, with or without extempore skills.
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Priya Rajasekar, an Irish citizen, is an Indian-born writer living in Dublin