The hopes and dreams of young migrant men coming to the UK are too often shattered, a University of Manchester study has found.
A team of criminologists are calling for a change in policy after finding that too many young men are unable to fully integrate into British society because of how they are treated when they start living here.
The research, outlined in a European Commission Report, found that twentysomething migrant men want to live just like any other young person of their age – work, have a family, play sport and have an active social life.
But many of them experience exclusion and hostility in the workplace, sportsgrounds and nightclubs and can sometimes find themselves being unfairly targeted by authorities and some members of the public.
Jon Spencer based at the University’s Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice, who led the study, said: “The majority of the young men we spoke to said that they felt fear of victimisation or racism because they feel like second-class citizens.
“When we interviewed them they told us that a lot of their social interactions were awkward and made them feel insecure or had the potential to cause conflict or in some cases violence.”
And the negative portrayal of migrants by MPs and the media exacerbates the problem, according to Jon Spencer. He said: “The young men we interviewed had a right of residence and aren’t illegal immigrants yet society in general isn’t making them feel welcome. They feel like they are constantly having to justify their status and are made to feel like they don’t belong here.
“Many of the men we spoke to told us they that they feel as if they are on the wrong side of the law, even if they hadn’t done anything wrong. The perception seems to be that these young men are automatically seen at risk of engaging in criminal activity.”
Evidence collected during the study also highlighted how many of the men had faced arduous journeys to get here from dangerous parts of the world such as the story of a young Afghan men who travelled for over a year through several countries and entered the UK as a minor at the back of a lorry.
He said: “Our findings indicate that Government needs to re-think its family reunion policies, particularly in the case of young adult men, and develop the tools to recognize and support socially disintegrated young migrants and not only unaccompanied minors.
“Feeling accepted and part of this society is crucial to a young men’s sense of well-being and can determine the quality of their present life and future outlook”.