Today is International Migrants Day, and Scotland is using this great occasion to make a rallying call to all EU nationals ahead of Britain leaving the European Union. Celebrated around the world since 2000, International Migrants Day is an opportunity for countries everywhere to recognise the important contributions that migrants make to their adopted homes.
Of course, Scotland is already famous for the incredibly warm and open welcome that we give everyone that comes here. Whether it’s the many thousands who choose to live here permanently or the more than 2.5 million visitors who travel to Scotland every year, everyone speaks of the genuine friendliness of the Scottish people.
We may have a strong national identity, but this doesn’t stop us from embracing new cultures and new people. Today, Scotland is a hotbed of multiculturalism, with more than 170 different languages spoken throughout the country.
With Brexit on the horizon, Scotland used International Migrants Day to emphasise that EU nationals continue to be welcome in Scotland. With this in mind, Scotland’s Citizens Advice network will provide a new advice service to European citizens affected by changes in the immigration rules as a result of Brexit.
Scottish Government’s Migration Minister, Ben Macpherson, said:
“The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to doing all it can to speak up for and in support of EU citizens at this uncertain and anxious time. Scotland is a welcoming and progressive nation and we deeply value the huge contribution of all those who have chosen to make their home here. We passionately want relatives, friends, neighbours and colleagues from other EU countries to stay in Scotland”.
The great news is that this new Scottish Government funded advice service will be over and above what the UK Government is currently proposing. By providing additional help, as well as being accessible at Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland, our service will have a particular focus on vulnerable and hard to reach groups who may find it difficult, or are unable or unwilling, to apply online without assistance, including people living in remote and rural areas.
For many years, Scotland has maintained a close friendship with the rest of Europe and we have strong connections in everything from the arts to education. At a time when it is vital that people have a trusted source of advice and support, EU nationals throughout Scotland will now have that.