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Asylum Seekers are not a problem for the country but an opportunity.

rolltherock.org.uk

For seven years I have worked with asylum seekers. These years were an eye opener for people like me who had no real, first-hand experience of what the whole 'asylum seeker' concept was about. Throughout these years I have learned many things about the conditions of asylum seekers in Ireland and about the realities of faraway places they came from.

The debates on asylum seekers are usually conducted in a 'negative' tone and asylum seekers are seen by the state, political powers etc. a problem that needs to be dealt with. It seems, the establishment - as per the popular phrase - can't think outside of the box of discrimination, racism and a 'no-solution' approach.

We need to force this debate to shift towards the reality of the situation and we really need to think outside of the box to see that the asylum seekers are not a problem for but an opportunity for the country.

First of all, regardless of how the international law, the state etc. defines them, asylum seekers are migrants. The 'legal' definition of these people does not change this fact. Like the migrants who build Germany, like the Irish migrants who worked in the factories of Britain and like the majority of the population of the US. Haven't we heard enough of how immigration benefited many places around the world. Because asylum seekers are not allowed to work this important aspect is usually ignored in many of the debates.

Asylum seekers bring a broad range of skills and life experience with them. From practical skills to academic abilities, these skills are waiting to be utilised rather than left idle in direct provision centres.

Asylum seekers are ambitious. I can almost see the eyebrows raised and feel uneasy moralism by some readers about the word 'ambitious', but they are. It is not the ambition of the powerful and the greedy for more and more but the struggle of the oppressed, tortured, poor, war victims etc, to stay alive and start a new and a normal life in a safer place. That is not an easy competency to have. After all what asylum seekers go through, back at home and here, it is this ambition that keeps them going.

Asylum seekers are the ultimate survivors. From recessionary measures to education - health and social services cuts, whatever affects us 'the locals' badly, it affects them many more times. Furthermore, the journey of an asylum seeker into this country is not an all-inclusive package holiday. From the beginning to end this journey is full of dangers, borders, detentions and deportations. That is, if they don't die in trying to cross the vast seas in the hands of human traffickers and harsh border control agencies. This skill of being the ultimate survivor is what gives them and their children the hope for a new and better life.

If we sum it all up, we have a group of migrants with broad range of skills, many of them speaking multiple languages, who are ambitious to build a new life and who are true survivors, bringing a vast life experience with them.

All of that sound to me like a brilliant CV.

Now is the time to get rid of the direct provision system that ignores this CV and give the asylum seekers the unconditional right to work as well as permanent residency and citizenship.

Asylum Seekers are not a problem for the country but an opportunity.

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English
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