Immigrants are controversial, but who are they?

Immigrants are the subject of this sketch I have written. Perhaps you will see yourself in it, or someone you know. It is set in Cardiff but similar conversations  could take place in many British towns.

A scene near the centre of Cardiff, where many immigrants might meet.

A scene near the centre of Cardiff, where many immigrants might meet.

Who are you calling immigrants?

The scene is a pub in Cardiff.

Anil: The trouble with this country is there are too many immigrants coming here all the time.

Brian: What are you talking about? Aren’t you one of them?

Anil: No, no! I was born here, but my family were immigrants. They came here from India in the 1960’s to work in the NHS. They had no idea there would be so many more coming after them, and not just from India but all over the world.

Carlo: I know we were here first, because my family came from Italy just after the War. My dad worked in the mines at a time when this country couldn’t produce coal fast enough. But you’re right – there’s too many immigrants coming here nowadays.

Ivan: I say you two are both immigrants, because your families came here when mine had been here for ages.

Brian: How long is ‘Ages’?

Ivan: Back in Victorian times, when loads of us came from Poland. My people had been mining coal around here long before his lot got started. Apart from my grandad who was a doctor in Cardiff before anyone invented the NHS.

Patrick: When you say Victorian, do you mean just before Queen Victoria died? Did they come in the 1890’s?

Ivan: I suppose so.

Patrick: I don’t know why they let your lot in – or theirs! You’re all immigrants, but loads of Irish people came here in the 1850’s because of the potato famine. My family’s got all sorts: miners, nurses, steelworkers, farm labourers, navvies, policemen, teachers, barmen – the lot.

Who were the first immigrants?

They all drink up and ponder what they’ve heard. Brian shakes his head.

Brian: You lot are all immigrants. The only real natives are us English. We go back to the Anglo-Saxons. We belong here. Well, apart from the posh ones, like Julian de Spenser, who says his family came with the Conqueror as if that gave them a right to lord it over the rest of us. Bloody cheek!

Thomas: I reckon you got a cheek an’ all. As bad as them lot, see? Us Welsh were here before the Anglo-Saxons tried to push us out and treat us like second class citizens in our own country. Wouldn’t even let us speak Welsh at one time.¬† It’s time we sent you back to Germany, isn’t it?

Anil: So it’s only the Welsh that can say they belong here in Wales, is it?

Thomas: Not only Wales. Weren’t you listening? The English took England from us too and Wales is the bit we managed to hang onto, more or less.

What is an immigrant?

Brian gets another round before speaking again.

Brian: Do you mean to say that you Welshmen were here from the beginning of time?

Thomas: Not quite. I mean, there was nobody at all here in the Ice Age. My ancestors must’ve come some time after ten thousand BC but before any of yours, like.

A long pause while they all study their beer glasses.

Brian: It seems we’re all immigrants, really. The last one to arrive ought to buy the next round.

Vlad: Hi lads! Good news – us Ukrainians can stay if we pass an English test and a test in ‘Britishness’.

Thomas: Not Welsh or Welshness? Never mind – it’s your round.

Are your values British?

You might like to think about the issues raised in a post about multiculturalism. It is an issue we have been arguing about for a long time and we will probably continue to do so.