How do you sleep at night?
Don’t you feel bad about letting them in?
Have you ever had regrets about what you do?
Not a week goes by without someone asking me a question like this.
The moral outrage is not the exclusive preserve of new acquaintances or random strangers. Sometimes the attacks come from friends, even the close ones.
At other times, my own siblings have decried my actions apologising to my extended family that I was not always like this and have only recently lost my way.
Even colleagues at work have shifted about uncomfortably when I have discussed what I do with them with some openly questioning whether I have a deeper agenda in life.
My wife does not comment much about the issue.
It may be that she is just silently disappointed and feels conflicted by her duty as a loyal partner.
My children are too young to realise but perhaps they too will grow up to shun me.
If I had a pet snake, perhaps it would not judge me.
One could be forgiven for assuming that I must be a drug dealer, a paedophile or a terrorist.
But alas, I am deemed to be much worse than that.
I am the type of person the Daily Mail has warned you about: the self-righteous protector of all things foreign at the expense of the indigenous British people, the one selling all local jobs to less experienced and under-qualified foreign workers, and opening the gates of the UK to the vilest and most despicable of creatures guilty of the most heinous of crimes.
Yes, I am an immigration lawyer.
Thankfully, both for the sake of Britain and my own conscience, the reality of my career and the clients I represent is far removed from the spiteful propaganda of the tabloid press.
What most people fail to see amidst the fog of hate is the inescapable truth that every immigrant that enters this country possesses another aspect of their identity that is shared by us all: their humanity.
The economic migrant in detention for entering the country illegally is also a desperate father doing what any of us would do to provide for his hungry children.
The illegal immigrant appealing to the tribunal to allow him to stay in the UK is also the loving husband of a British woman who is not earning the requisite salary set by the government to enable him to meet the increasingly restrictive immigration rules to enter lawfully.
The asylum seeker arrested for working illegally in the local fried chicken shop was once employed as a consultant paediatrician in his home country before the bombs started falling from the sky.
Now he is struggling to provide for his family with the less than £37 a week he receives from the government for every member of his household.
The child condemned by the public for maturing beyond his years following an arduous journey hidden in lorries at the mercy of unscrupulous people traffickers and survival in a squalid outdoor camp, is still a child.
The reason I can sleep well at night (very well at night!) is that my position allows me to scratch beneath the surface and discover human beings, each with their own unique story of their pursuit of their dreams to live in the UK, whether that was to flee persecution, be united with their family members or just seeking a better life.
The press and the politicians wish to dehumanise them as nameless, faceless statistics with no positive qualities within them.
I hope this blog can help go some way towards counteracting that narrative and presenting these ‘migrants’ for what they actually are … human beings with a story to tell.
Learn more about who I am here.
Visadreams.com, Diary of an Immigration Lawyer, is a blog run by Fahad Ansari, a solicitor based in London specialising in UK immigration and nationality law. If you would like any advice or assistance in relation to your immigration matter, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your details here.