Displaced life: What I want for Christmas

I don’t think my fellow asylum seekers and I are asking for too much 

December 20, 2023
Illustration by Clara Nicoll
Illustration by Clara Nicoll

Dear reader, the Christmas holidays are approaching and it's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. So let me tell you what I, and my fellow persons seeking asylum in the UK, want for Christmas. First, we want people looking for refuge not to be forced to take such drastic and dangerous measures as crossing the English Channel in small boats. We also want less controversial tools to manage migration—no more ideas like the failed Rwanda policy, and no stopping charitable organisations from giving asylum seekers clothes, haircuts and legal help at migrant centres.

We want compassionate alternatives to detention for persons seeking asylum, which cost much less. And for queer people seeking asylum such as myself, we would like community-based alternatives that allow us to live as our true selves. We want the UK news media to be less polarised and not to subject us to toxic dehumanisation. The rhetoric of “invaders” cuts deep to our core.

We want a fair, rational vetting system for persons seeking asylum in the UK that weeds out fraudulent claims and prioritises those in genuine need. It’s the elephant in the room, but I want us to be able to talk about those few who use the system for their own benefit. Those few who take away the opportunities from others wanting a chance to live a better life in a safe country, free from persecution, discrimination and authoritarianism.

What we want for Christmas is to enjoy everyday life and not be made to feel insufficient for being human beings. We want to escape the bonds that hold us down—we need meaning and understanding. We want to see past the patterns of trauma and difficulties in our lives and have a sense of hope about the future. We want freedom and the ability to get beyond ourselves, whether with ever-burgeoning technology or just in our state of minds, allowing us rise above our immediate surroundings.

This Christmas, we seek the feeling of being home. All we want is to feel part of the beauty and value of the UK and to be respected by the people who live in it.