The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has called on politicians to stop using ‘alarmist’ language when discussing immigration issues.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols is concerned about the ‘distress’ caused to people seeking UK visas and to British citizens because of the tone of the debate. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said the UK should see the ‘richness’ that migrants can bring to the country rather than being angry about their arrival.
The Cardinal said: “What I would appeal today is that the debate about immigration is done with a sense of realism and a sense of respect – and that it is not cushioned in expressions which are alarmist and evocative of anger or of dismay or distress at all these people coming to this country.”
Although he did not single out any political parties, there has been widespread concern about a £1.5 million advertising campaign by the UK Independence Party, which suggests to people that foreign workers are after their jobs.
One of the posters shows a pointing finger and the text “Twenty six million people in Europe are looking for work – and whose job are they after?” The Ukip poster was unveiled despite the party’s leader Nigel Farage employing his German wife as his assistant.
Cardinal Nichols pointed to the value of immigrants working in the NHS and other parts of the public sector. As well as the benefits to the UK, he said they were also earning money to support their families in their home countries.
He said: “There is no doubt that our welcome for immigrants not only helps this country but also helps the poor in other parts of the world as well.”