You're only an "economic migrant" if you're poor and brown

Ned Richardson-Little is a Canadian academic who went to the US "in search of a better life," did research in Germany and settled in the UK, something he was able to do thanks to his economic migrant grandfather who happened to have been born in Scotland.

Richardson contemplates the vilified category of "economic migrant" — "the greedy, dark other to those virtuously fleeing conflict" — and wonders how it is that no one has ever vilified him, given that he, too, is so obviously an "economic migrant."

My grandparents (and father) were displaced people — Red Army deserters who destroyed their papers so that they could escape Europe via the DP boats to Canada — and I left Canada for the USA to found a company, then moved to the UK to represent an NGO and became a citizen, and have now moved back to the USA to write novels and campaign for better information policy. No one has ever called me an economic migrant.

I've been able to "follow the rules," because the rules have been written explicitly for my benefit. I had the good fortune to be born to citizenship in a country that isn't a pariah state, my spouse provided a legal status that only widened my options, and another country deemed the birthplace of a genetic relation who has been dead for 15 years crucial for legal work status. I've also had the luck to be part of a group not demonized as a threat to public order and safety – so much so that I've had people in both the UK and Germany launch into angry rants to about the damn foreigners before they realized I was one of them.

If you want to be outraged by "economic migrants" who are just trying to make it into Europe for profit, start with me. I'm not fleeing war, or death squads, or military dictatorship, I just want to get paid to write history. Or am I not that kind of foreign?

The Wandering Academic, or How No One Seems to Notice that I Am an Economic Migrant.
[Ned Richardson-Little]

(Image: Refugee march Hungary 2015-09-04 02, Joachim Seidler, CC-BY)