“People from other countries are not like us,” starts so many racist statements. That is the bigger part of the problem. Another part is double empathy, we judge them because they do things differently to us.
Seeking asylum is legal. Asylum seekers are not illegal immigrants. I’ll get back to that later.
As an autistic person I have come across double empathy before. People wrongly accuse us of not having empathy. It is not that our empathy is missing, fat from it. Not only do autistic people empathise with each other but having grown up among people who mostly are nor autistic, many of us do empathise with non-autistic people too. Non-autistic people who have not grown up among autistic people often do not empathise with autistics. They empathise with each other so it must be the autistics who lack empathy, mustn’t it? No. That is because empathy is not natural, it is learned.
This affects the issue of immigration, asylum seekers and refugees? Double empathy can be seen between cultures. When western businesspeople meet others from the middle east there is a problem with social distancing (not the social distancing imposed because of Covid-19 but natural social distancing, how far we stand apart when talking). Middle Easterners stand closer together than Westerners which can lead to accusations that either the Middle Easterners are aggressive or that Westerners are stand offish. That is double empathy in action, as is the Western accusation that Middle Easterners are gay, because male friends and colleagues walk hand in hand.
This is stereotyping of people and it is wrong. Stereotyping makes people something other than us. Stereotyping makes out that people fleeing for their lives to escape famine or persecution are after our jobs, which is untrue. In any case immigration creates jobs. It is the start of abuse to stereotype people as not like us. Foreign people, not like us; Black and btown people, not like us; LGBTGA+ people, not like us; treans people, not like us; disabled people and neurodiverse people, not like us. This separating of people into us and them is abusive because we are like them, by separating ourselves from them we are harming ourselves, we become cynical and hardened against them. We are people like them, they are people like us.
Othering people from other cultures due to double empathy is understandable and is not racism. A lot of what we see in the press is blatant racism. Asylum seekers are not illegal. They have a right to come to a safe country if it is not safe in their own. Racism against them is seen in national newspapers. Stories that people crossing the English Channel is rubber boats are illegal are lies. Racist lies.
The British Government website says:
You must apply for asylum if you want to stay in the UK as a refugee.
To be eligible you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you fear persecution.
You should apply when you arrive in the UK or as soon as you think it would be unsafe for you to return to your own country. Your application is more likely to be denied if you wait.https://www.gov.uk/claim-asylum
It isn’t just the press either, the British Government have been in trouble with the law society, because of the way the Home office has attacked lawyers who are trying to see that people who are legally here do not have their rights taken away .