"I first came to the UK 20 years ago as a PhD student to do research with the man who is now my husband. Nine years ago we got married in a castle in Northumberland – quite a thrill for this American woman. I love my new country. I am a Lecturer in Oral Biology at Newcastle University, teaching tooth anatomy and histology to dental students and an Honorary Research Fellow at Durham University, doing research in dental anthropology. Science is a global endeavor and the UK would suffer tremendously if immigrants didn’t come here to do research and teach in our universities.
I became a British citizen in 2010, primarily so that I could vote. As we say in my country of origin, “No taxation without representation.” I am proud to be British but in 2014, I learned that I am not equal to other British citizens when my son tried to visit me, was locked up in a cell at Heathrow overnight and returned to the USA the next day. Despite speaking to us several times on the phone, the UK Border Force told us that he had been denied entry because he had no reason to return to the USA. My son had lost his job and we had hoped his visit would give him a period of time to think about what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, not sneak him into a country permanently in which he could not work nor have medical care.
Around the same time, a former student of mine had come over to do a postgraduate degree, had fallen in love, gotten married and had to return to the USA because her husband, although employed, did not make enough money for her to remain. Her potential to earn a living here was not taken into account. This policy discriminates against British citizens born and raised in this country by preventing them from living with their own spouses. The policies enacted in this country that prevent families from being together are inhumane and I hope that my participation in the “I am an immigrant” poster campaign will help people to recognise that immigrants make positive contributions to British society and that we are unique human beings, not a collective to be vilified. Let’s celebrate immigration because it is good for all of us!