More than one in 10 people in Britain are estimated to be foreign-born, with India, Poland, Pakistan and Ireland traditionally among the biggest sources of new arrivals.
A study by experts at the University of Manchester found that the hopes of young migrants arriving here are all too quickly shattered. The reality faced by young migrant men arriving in the UK, often after arduous journeys of thousands of miles, is that Britain in 2016 is a far cry from the land of their dreams. New arrivals want to work hard, start a family, play sport and lead an active social life, but many face exclusion and hostility at work, in sports grounds and nightclubs, and also find themselves being unfairly treated by the public and the authorities. These men in British society feel like second class citizens.
“The majority of the young men we spoke to said they felt fear of victimisation or racism because they feel like second class citizens,” said Jon Spencer, from the university’s Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice, who led the study. “When interviewed them, told us that a lot of their social interactions were awkward and made them feel insecure or had the potential to cause conflict or in some cases violence.”
Researchers believe that a negative portrayal of migrants by politicians and the media could be making it difficult for those with legitimate rights of residence to settle, with many feeling they are constantly having to justify their status.
“The young men we interviewed had a right of residence and aren’t illegal immigrants, yet society in general isn’t making them feel welcome,” Mr Spencer said. “They feel they are constantly having to justify their status and are made to feel like they don’t belong here. Many we spoke to told us that they feel as if they are on the wrong side of the law, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. The perception seems to be that these young men are automatically seen at risk of engaging in criminal activity.”