Leaders should finally tell us the truth about migration: it’s here for good

7 June 2024: Guardian: Leaders should finally tell us the truth about migration: it’s here for good

It’s time to resist the right’s narrative of immigration as aberration. Nations thrive on it – and they always have done

The state is an invention. It’s a bureaucratic tool of governance for an arbitrarily defined landmass; an artifice made convincing through emotive storytelling. Although many countries have their “long, long ago” symbolic foundation story, in truth the vast majority of them have only existed as independent constitutions for a matter of decades. We, the nationals, are the result of millennia of migrations of ancestral hunter-gatherers, herders, farmers, merchants, students, industrialists; of colonists and colonisers; of people invading, fleeing, crusading, exploring, roaming, slave-trading; uprooted for war, work, fortune and love. The dense interconnectedness of the human family, our genetic similarity, means that in terms of our biology, there are no different races. We can all claim ancestry from across the world.

Nevertheless, our politics is obsessed with distinctions based on national identity. Many of the arguments against immigration rest on the idea that there is a true and pure national identity, which means some people “belong” while others do not. Ethno-nationalism is particularly overt among far-right parties, even if the message has been softened from “racial identity” to “cultural identity”, to make it more palatable. But the cord that tethers us to a particular land – our national identity – is not innate; it is based on recent or ancient migrations, or the happenstance of your mother’s location at the moment of your birth.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/article/2024/jun/07/migration-truth-political-leaders-right