Loving a country sneaks up on you

"It's a melancholy feeling to be othered by the State just as I'm starting to feel like I belong here."

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

I didn't expect it to hit me like this. Today is the last in a long list of Brexit deadlines, the final day for EU and EEA citizens in the United Kingdom to apply to keep their immigration rights. It changes nothing for me; I applied more than two years ago. Yet today feels like an ending. Starting in a few hours, I'll have to justify myself whenever I want to rent, work or receive healthcare. It's a melancholy feeling to be othered by the State just as I'm starting to feel like I belong here.  

My dad pointed out to me that my work had become quite critical of the UK lately. "Anglophobia" is the word he used, teasingly I think. What I'm criticizing, I hope you know, is the British government, not its people. Even with a care for journalistic rigor (which is not neutrality), it's hard not to get riled up at the harm done to immigrants, to truth and to democratic principles at the moment.

My dad's comment made me ponder why I care so much. The only explanation is that this country is becoming home. When I first arrive somewhere, I am curious but removed from outcomes. It takes effort to understand an alien political system. In Australia, I remember reading Wikipedia pages to understand the Federation. In the UK, it's been the Bagehot column in The Economist and hours of political podcasts. (I'll share a list soon.) That's only an intellectual understanding, however. Caring sneaks up on you slowly. Only after years of paying attention and taxes, of living in the heart of a community but on the sideline of its elections, do you start to get riled up. When immigrants get angry and political, nationalists should applaud: that's the assimilation they wanted all along.


News from the global citizenry

🇬🇧🇩🇰🇷🇼 The UK will next week introduce a new Nationality and Borders bill, The Times reported, which could see asylum seekers sent offshore for processing. That's something Denmark has already passed into law, and the two countries could share detention centres abroad. Possibly located in Rwanda. A UK government source as much as admitted to The Times that this is mostly political posturing:

“The numbers have a psychological and political impact that goes far beyond the actual numbers involved. The idea that people are coming in apparently at will — even if it’s a relatively small proportion of immigration to the UK — doesn’t exactly give the impression we’re in control, especially when people are washing up in dinghies.”

Small boat Channel crossings have doubled in the past year, but signaled a change in travel method more than numbers. Asylum applications were down 24%.

🇺🇸 The US is the best place to be right now. Bloomberg added reopening progress to its Covid resilience rankings of 53 countries (well worth clicking through to dive into the data.) The United States have the best combination of high vaccine coverage, minimal lockdown restrictions and most travel options. Then come New Zealand, Switzerland, Israel and France. This is right now data and not a historical look. Rankings have been extremely volatile. Watch them move this summer as the Delta variant spreads... The research makes clear too the widening gap between North and South. For some, it looks like the pandemic is only just starting.

⚽️ I know it's a trope to say football is nothing without immigrants but... football is nothing without immigrants. That's why this immigrant can now unreservedly cheer for England to dull the pain of France's demise.

The future is global

🦸 When diversity diversifies. A superdiverse community is one where not only there is a large immigrant population, but it is extremely varied. No one national origin dominates. Instead of large immigrant groups from a handful of countries, such as early 20th century Europeans to the US or post-war Caribbean immigration to the UK, you have smaller groups from many more places. That's increasingly what immigration looks like in the world's megacities. Superdiversity becomes really interesting at the local scale: We may say goodbye to segregated ethnic communities where new arrivals coalesced (think Chinatowns) and instead have truly heterogeneous neighborhoods. This comes with challenges for newcomers to find their support network and get situated, but could also foster integration and turn the heat down on identity wars... IF native-born populations play ball too.

Borderliners' square

💬 Come hang out with us. We now have our own Discord server, accessible exclusively to Borderline members. There's a weekly video hangout, you can chat anytime with other global citizens around the world, and discover work and educational opportunities that are just right for our crowd. Subscribe to join in on the fun.

🎧 Coming up next on the podcast: Iranian American novelist Dina Nayeri in a broad conversation about being a refugee, the false narratives on immigration and many other things, which was an absolute blast to record. Members will get the whole thing. A summer treat. Tune in this weekend.

📢 Many of you have your own podcasts and newsletters. Happy to plug 'em here. Just ask.

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Isabelle Roughol

Journalist. Founder & host of Borderline. Former international editor of LinkedIn, foreign editor at Le Figaro, reporter at The Cambodia Daily. Global soul, messy accent.


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