MIGRANTS: Queue Jumper Badges

Interview to Dr. Mara Saeli by Zia Fernandez-Ibarreche

I am inspired by people who use creativity and wit, making something positive out of despair. Last week, I received my “Queue Jumper” badge, for those who do not know what a queue jumper is, read carefully: A EU citizen living in the UK. To name someone a queue jumper in this context, is a real insult, as we all know that queues are sacred here, they are part of our everyday solemn protocol; you just don’t dare to do it!

Three weeks ago, the PM Teresa May said as part of a televised speech that her Brexit plan will stop EU citizens from jumping the queue. Migration would become skills-based, with Europeans no longer prioritised over "engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi".

Theresa May’s agenda is not new, this year it has seen the light the scandal that she led in 2010, while she was Secretary of State for the Home Office. May was the Machiavellian founder and creator of the Hostile environment policy, tackling without mercy the Windrush Generation. This year, instead taking responsibility of this illegal act, she sacked Amber Rudd from her post of Secretary of State for the Home Office. Offering Rudd later, the job of Minister for Works and Pensions.

The hostile environment policy, which came into effect in October 2010, is a nasty set of administrative and legislative measures designed to make staying in the United Kingdom as difficult as possible for people without "leave to remain", in the hope that they may "voluntarily leave". We all know now that most of this people did not have the documentation to proof their status as previously the Home Office have taken this card/ document from them, without giving a replacement document or passport. Instead of being helped by their motherland, they where persecuted; left without jobs, cancer treatments, housing or made homeless. And in some cases even deported.

Z.F.I Hi Mara, Thank you for taking part of this interview for my blog. How did you come up with the idea of the Queue Jumper badges?

M.S Hi Zia, Thank you for wanting to know more about the Queue Jumper badges discreet protest. For the last year I have been trying to keep myself busy and distracted from the news as the referendum result caused me anxiety, depression and a whole lot of uncertainty about our future (as a family). Part of the distraction involved setting up some social groups here in Wolverton (Milton Keynes) to promote integration. The main group is called “The Creative Hungry Language Cafe”. We meet to possibly speak different languages, share food (possibly from different countries) and make integration between “foreigners” and indigenous people as smooth as possible. I have acquired a badge presser machine to make badges for our local community group.

The day Mrs. May referred at us as queue jumpers my blood boiled and I needed to channel my anger towards something more creative than my thoughts on that day. This is how the queue jumper craze started. I then received requests of making different designs so different people could show their support to EU citizens.

Z.F.I How do you feel to be described by this government as Citizen of Nowhere, Bloody Foreigner, Bargaining Chip or Queue Jumper? Does your badge project try to break these narratives?

M.S I am not really good at wording my feelings, but surely they are not positive feelings. For the last 18 years (maybe 20?) I have been living in a different place than my birth city. I have been an “immigrant” since then, but never I have felt so “immigrant” as since the referendum. I have cried the day after in front of the passport control in Italy as I was coming back “home” in the UK with my two EU children. My feelings are so mixed as I feel my home is here in the UK with my husband and my 2 children, but at the same time I feel I want to leave this country.

I doubt my badge will break any narrative as those people subject to these kind of narratives do not get moved by badges. But this project keeps my brain busy and my moral high. Seeing so many people ordering badges and wearing them with pride. I sold roughly 100 so far and sent roughly £70 to the People's Vote Campaign.

Z.F.I Tell us about you, how long have you lived in the UK?

M.S I have been living in the UK for the last 6 years. Before that I lived in Germany, The Netherlands, France and different city in Italy.

Z.F.I what does migration mean to you?

M.S Migration is a powerful brain tool that should be made compulsory in Education. Everyone needs to leave their own town/city/country and open themselves to other cultures. Travelling and experiencing other cultures makes you more tolerant, gives you more empathy and in general gives you the tools to make your life more knowledgeable.

However migration is a double sided coin. From one hand it makes you discover and empowers, on the other you will always be an immigrant. Unless you will go back where you came from (whatever that means) and be anyway a non local because you have been living somewhere else.

Z.F.I How does BREXIT affect your life in the UK?

M.S Brexit is having an indirect effect on my life. It has caused anxiety, depression and uncertainty. We are still uncertain on what to do next. Every single time I switch on the radio or read some newspaper I immediately want to pack and Brexodus my family away. Then I think of all my friends here, our house, our children's friend and my brain battles between wanting to leave and wanting to stay. We don't want our children to grow up in a country where the government is so easy to release “queue jumping” statements and enabling indigenous to feel superior thanks to these statements.

Z.F.I Where will you wear your badge next time?

M.S I will be wearing my badge at Christmas Lunch and discretely break the “No Brexit talk” rule, after this topic has ruined the last two Christmas lunches. An Italian saying goes “there is no 2 without 3”, meaning that if Brexit ruined 2 Christmas lunches, it might as well ruin a third one. As much as I try to remove myself from a room where this topic start being discussed, I always end up being involved. This year I will wear my badge with pride and jump the queue to the buffet, as my badge gives me the power to do so :) I am fortunate enough to have mostly a supportive acquired British family, but that single black sheep can ruin the party for all. I am one of these EU citizens who happened to marry a British man and has an In-Law who voted Brexit because of immigrants. My head will never manage to go around this concept. As you can expect, one of my “Queue Jumper's In-Law” badges will be wrapped up and put under someone's tree this year :)

Z.F.I You can order your badge here: https://www.peoples-vote.uk/

 

Thank you for reading.

London, 8th December, 2018.

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