SDLP Economy Spokesperson, Sinead McLaughlin MLA has urged the British Government to change its Europhobic approach to migrant workers.
The Foyle MLA made the appeal after the UK government announced that it would limit migration from countries outside the UK and Ireland unless they meet a new points-based immigration qualification system, including a general salary threshold of £25,600 and a minimum salary threshold of £20,480.
The Foyle MLA said:
“It is clear that the new Immigration Rules are not fit for purpose and that the specific needs of Northern Ireland have been completely disregarded. The benefits that immigrants bring to our economy are numerous and substantial. They are particularly vital to the provision of high quality services in our hospitality, retail, care and health sectors.”
“However, it is crucial that we do not make the mistake of underestimating the other contributions that they bring to society. Whether that be through art, cuisines or new ideas, immigration expands our culture and presents us with different ways of thinking.
“We run the risk of dehumanising individuals and reducing them to mere statistics. Immigrants are our friends, family members, colleagues, community leaders and neighbours. Cultural diversity enriches our society, playing a significant role in making the region a more open and accepting place to live.”
“During the run up to the 2016 referendum, there was a sharp increase in divisive rhetoric. Racists were emboldened. Racially motivated crimes now exceed sectarian ones in Northern Ireland. Yet PSNI figures showed that in 2017, 83% of recorded race hate crimes did not result in a prosecution or warning. Racism and prejudice should have no place in our society. We must never forget the place of migration in the story of Ireland.”