The Brexit, Immigration and Identity
By: Nicole Huang, Communications Intern
Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, known as the “Brexit,” has been making headlines lately because of its huge political and economic implications. The resulting turmoil defies simple explanation. However, I want to call attention to one important piece of the puzzle--the fact that, as some reporting has shown, the Brexit vote has emerged from a climate of anti-immigrant sentiment.
One of the campaigns for leaving the UK used an anti-immigrant stance to gain support for the cause. In a clear example, the anti-EU political party, called UKIP, recently displayed a poster showing a line of refugees with the words "Breaking point." These fears stem from a rapidly increasing rate of immigration to the UK, currently ten times what it was in 1993(1). Before the referendum a poll found that 47 percent of UK voters who planned to vote in support of the Brexit believed that immigration is bad for the economy(5). More disturbingly, violence has broken out. In the three days following the referendum over 90 incidents of anti-immigrant physical and verbal abuse were reported in Britain, in addition to harassment over social media(2).
During this time when Britain’s identity is in question, many would like to exclude immigrants from the picture. Anti-immigrant comments have also been on the rise in American politics as more and more U.S. politicians take hard line stances about immigration policy (3). In both America and the UK we have seen immigrants take the blame for an economic downturn despite the fact that multiple studies have shown that immigrants actually revitalize economies (5, 6).
Meanwhile, I believe that World Farmers is an active demonstration of strength and vitality that immigrants and refugees bring to our American communities. The immigrant and refugee farmers at the Flats Mentor Farm, a program of World Farmers, sell their fresh produce at 40 farmers markets throughout the state. According to the American Immigration council, “Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to the Massachusetts economy” (4). We are proud to support the hardworking farmers at Flats Mentor Farm as new business owners in Massachusetts, and to support all immigrant and refugee farmers as part of the identity of our nation.
- http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/06/28/exploding-uk-immigration-helped-drive-brexit-vote/86424670/ A full third of those who voted in favor of Britain leaving the EU said immigration concerns were the reason