I'm a ‘migrant’ running in the European elections because this is my home

I fell in love with England when I was 12 years old.

I came for a language exchange, and immediately knew that I wanted to move to live here from my native Germany.

I loved the easy-going politeness of the English people in comparison to the formalities of home.

So over 20 years ago, I left Germany to enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere of London.

In 2009, I went to the Proms, and met my now husband.

I live in Manchester and have neighbours from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Romania and Ireland – it’s a very peaceful, cooperative community.

We manage our back alley in a collaborative way, to create a green haven and safe space for children.

My step daughter is 19, and she wants to go and live in Paris for a while. But without freedom of movement from the UK’s membership of the EU, her options are likely to be much more limited than the ones I had when I was younger.

She – and others her age – don’t know what their options will be in the next months, let alone next year.

I now want to improve life here in Manchester and the North West, my home, to make things better for my neighbours, my community, the country in which I hope to live for the rest of my life

Love of free movement, and fear of the damage that it will do to millions of lives (as well as my own) is one reason why I’m standing for election into the European Parliament for the Green Party.

It is the only party that has consistently championed – indeed, celebrated – freedom of movement as a crucial right for British people

In contrast, we see Jeremy Corbyn obfuscating rather than answering simple questions on the Labour Party’s position on Brexit and immigration.

I felt immediately at home when I moved to the UK, but since 2016 I’ve felt like ‘a migrant’.

This is my home, but I’m not being treated like it is.

Applying for settled status is frightening and angering. Even the technology is not fit for purpose.

Why do they tell me I have to have an Android phone? (I don’t.)

I see the impact of the Home Office’s hostile environment – particularly in relation to the Windrush scandal – during my work at the Greater Manchester Law Centre, located in the heart of Manchester’s West Indian community.

Why should I have to ‘apply’ to stay in my own home? Why did I not have a vote in 2016?

Those with resources, skills and money will probably find a way through eventually, although a recent case concerning the UK-based Danish academic stranded with his Turkish wife in Istanbul shows even that may not always suffice.

But what of those without the language skills, the computer knowledge, or the resources to navigate their way through the new ’settled status’ procedure?

What about their children, if they don’t have sufficient documentation?

The other key reason why I’m standing is because the EU is crucially important to me as a peace project.

One of my grandfathers was an architect of the Final Solution; my father spent his life fighting fascism and bigotry.

Although I am critical of many aspects of the European Union, it has fulfilled an essential purpose of ensuring peace by bringing people together in a cooperative, democratic structure.

It is a crucial bulwark against the rise of the Far Right that has such frightening echoes of the past.

In 2016 I went to the Council of the European Greens, its main decision-making body. There I learnt how much impact Green MEPs were already having – and how their work with the EU was having a big impact in environmental policy, on women’s and LGBTIQA+ rights, particularly in the relatively new member countries in the east.

I now want to improve life here in Manchester and the North West, my home, to make things better for my neighbours, my community, the country in which I hope to live for the rest of my life.

More on the European elections

The Conservative Party: The Conservatives are the only party that can deliver a Brexit that unites the country

The Liberal Democrats: The Liberal Democrats will fight for the UK to lead, not leave, the European Union

The Labour Party were approached by but chose to not contribute a piece. 

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