The topic of refugees has always been a point of concern in the world. Recently, the U.S. election has brought up this topic and it seems that everyone has an opinion on it. When topics like this crop up, it isn’t surprising to see celebrities voicing their opinion. For example, actor Brad Pitt is a vocal supporter for adoption.

Recently, British pop star Lily Allen has come under fire for her trip to an Afghanistan refugee camp.

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The Trip

Lily Allen is known for her multifaceted talents. From the music world to films and TV, Allen has been a darling in the U.K. In 2016, she took a trip to an Afghanistan refugee camp. She wanted to “shine a light” on the situation that the refugees are going through.

While on her trip, she was being followed by a BBC documentary crew. The documentary was aimed to showcase the trip and Allen’s reactions to the camp. As Allen talked to the refugees, she came into contact with a teenage boy.

He informed her that he had been camped in the area for two months, waiting for an opportunity to cross onto lorries that would lead to the U.K. The migrant situation is a touchy one, but Allen wanted this situation to be known.

At one point, Allen broke down into tears. She then followed by apologizing to the boy for what her country had done to him. She apologized for the mistreatment while shedding tears and the whole situation was caught on camera.

The Controversy

Once the footage was released, an immediate and gigantic backlash began. Many quickly started criticizing Allen in one of two ways. First, many claimed that Allen’s tears were faked, saying that the only reason she ended up crying was to cast the limelight on herself. One Twitter user even went as far as to say that, “Ms. Allen must bottle their crocodile tears for future self-promotion.”

The second group who are criticizing her states that she has no right to apologize for the entire country. Many in Europe believe that the migrants who are crossing into the countries are abusing the native citizens. The migrants are often represented as savages who don’t know how to act and are “raping women”.

Allen has replied strongly to these accusations with numerous tweets. She says that while she shouldn’t have spoken for the entire country, there is a problem going on with these migrants. They are being mistreated and not given any sort of chance in the U.K. And she’s not wrong.

The Reality

Immigrants of all statures seem to be prejudiced against. In the U.S., the big deal about immigrants focuses on Mexicans crossing the border and taking American jobs. The view point for a lot of people is to keep Mexicans on their side of the border. They have no right to come over that border and take away the jobs that Americans have worked so hard for. However, people seem to miss the point that these jobs which are “taken” by immigrants aren’t being taken at all.

According to an article in the Southern Economic journal, immigrants don’t lower our wages and take our jobs. In fact, they do the exact opposite. The article goes on to state that immigrants actually raise Americans’ wages.  Immigrants aren’t hurting the U.S. The only ones hurting the U.S. are the people who spend their time and energy focusing on issues that don’t need their attention.

This example from the U.S. can be expanded to many views held around the world. In the case of Lily Allen, she’s trying to do the right thing. She’s trying to guide the focus of media to the problem that is looming in the French port city of Calais.

What Should We Do?

What you think of Allen’s display on camera is moot. What isn’t moot is the idea that many people seem to think that the refugee and immigrant problem around the world isn’t a big deal. In fact, pushing these refugees out tends to hurt the country more.

Refugees are just people who are trying to better their lives and are, more often than not, escaping from the atrocities of war. I understand that people are a jittery because of the stereotype of refugees coming into the country and committing terrorist attacks. However, those beliefs are unwarranted. Anyone can be a terrorist. Just because you’re trying to better your life doesn’t mean you have malicious intentions. Just because you come from the Middle East doesn’t mean you are associated with terrorist organizations. If people give into this stereotype, then the terrorists win.

Whether you support Lily Allen or despise her, you have to admit that her experience has shifted people’s focus onto the subject of refugees. They are simply people. People seeking a better and safer life. Instead of chastising them, let’s give them a chance. Give them a chance to start a new life and pursue their dreams, without the fear of being killed by their government or those who seek to upturn it.

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Holly Whitman

Holly Whitman is the author behind Only Slightly Biased, a freelance journalist and striving to be one of the best women political writers on the web. Her work has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Fortune, Politicus, Bust and Feministing. You can find her on Twitter at @hollykwhitman.

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