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Migration Issues

Migration Issues

Updated 18/06/15

Until very recently it was unusual to meet someone from another country in Northern Ireland but it was very common to have family members who were working elsewhere. Within the last couple of decades we have seen dramatic change, with people from many different nationalities coming here to study, work or visit. The sudden increase in inward migration has been bewildering for many local people and this section of the website sets out to help with understanding immigration, its impact on society, and on the people from other countries and ethnic backgrounds who find themselves here.

The Migration pages seek to answer questions, explain why people move from country to country, the system in the UK, and what it is like for the people who have come here.
The Immigration Enforcement section looks at how the authorities deal with people who are thought to have broken our immigration rules.
The Racism pages examine its causes and effects and the initiatives taken to prevent it.
The Asylum section looks at why people are forced to flee from persecution in their own country, how many come here, the system for applying for asylum, and what people experience in the process.
There is increased public awareness of modern day slavery in our country in the form of people trafficking and this gross form of exploitation is examined in the Trafficking section.




Frequently asked Questions about Migrants and Refugees


Q Who is an immigrant?
A This term has been applied to all people coming into the country to work, but it is now often applied to people who intend to settle and integrate here, as opposed to being a more temporary ‘migrant worker’. It is important not to view people who are part of long-established ethnic communities and populations as ‘immigrants’.

Q Who is a migrant worker?
Someone who leaves their country with the intention of seeking work elsewhere. In practice the words are usually applied today to people who do not intend to remain permanently in the host country.

Q Who is an economic migrant?
Anyone who moves from their home country to improve their economic situation can be termed an ‘economic migrant’. This term is sometimes used in a derogatory way, to throw suspicion on people’s motives in seeking asylum. In fact, poverty and economic deprivation, as well as violence, are tools of those who persecute individuals and groups of people. Most economic migrants simply seek a better life for themselves and their families, as many people from Ireland have done for generations.

Q Who is an asylum seeker?
Someone who has a well-founded fear of persecution by reason of their race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion, in their own country, and seeks refuge in another country.

The words we use…The term ‘asylum seeker’ is now regarded by many people as a depersonalising term of abuse, often associated with the word ‘bogus’. In EMBRACE, we try to use the phrase, ‘person seeking asylum’. Similarly, the broad-brush term, ‘illegal immigrant’ is best replaced by the more objective words, ‘undocumented person’. How can a human being be illegal?

Q Who is a refugee?
A Someone who applies for asylum, and is successful in being granted refugee status, under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to Refugees. ‘Refugee’ is also the general term for all people who have been displaced from their own countries by persecution, war and civil unrest.

How Immigration Policies are Enforced Today

Officials have the right to detain anyone suspected of committing an immigration offence, as well as people in the asylum system. Locally, this may include people who have strayed across the border without the correct visa, or asylum applicants who live in the community. Others are detained if it is felt that their asylum application has little hope of success, or if the person has exhausted all appeal remedies. Read more