What is it about railway stations that conjures up ghosts of the past? I'm standing on the platform in Pastavy (or Postavy), deep in the Belarussian countryside, almost exactly 100 years since my friend Stu Seidel's grandfather, Julius Seidel, stood on this same platform (or one very like it) and boarded a train to start a new life in the New World.
Like an ever-increasing number of people, we have a growing interest in our families' origins. But also because, as journalists, we can't help but be aware that migration is one of the biggest challenges facing the world we live in. So it's only natural that as the son and grandson of immigrants, we're irresistibly tempted to use our own families' pasts as a way of examining the present and the future.
There is an appetite for change shared not only by EU member states, but also by many people in EU institutions, who are able to identify challenges faced by Europe nowadays. Poland believes in strong EU institutions and deeper political integration, as well as aims, like the UK, at the completion of the single market.
They are locked up for days or weeks without access to a lawyer, not knowing what is happening... They receive the decision the next day. The refusal rate is 99%... "I was lucky... Many more have not been lucky. And justice should not depend on luck."
It was when the barrister casually mentioned the torture methods that I recognised her client's country of origin. Beaten with pipes filled with sand, hung upside down and forced to inhale chilli smoke. It's the standard menu of Sri Lankan security force torture for Tamils...
Exactly why the middle bands of the class structure, which contains around half the population, contain less ethnic interaction is unclear. One explanation mooted by social theorists is that this group has less of an achieved status than the professional class, and therefore invests more strongly in its ethnic identity...
You are almost certainly well-educated, quite possibly with a university degree that has equipped you with an excellent foundation of knowledge and skills - theoretically that's a pretty good starting point
Time and time again, the public has stressed to the political establishment that immigration is an issue that must be taken seriously. We can only claim to take it seriously when we collect proper migration data in earnest. People on all sides of the debate can agree that Britain and its people deserve better migration data.
In my view each person decides who they are, what their identity is. Some Scots feel Scottish and don't identify with a British identity. Other Scots feel Scottish and British, and proud of both. I am from India - but if we were limited to our ethnicity and ethnic stereotypes it would be a dull world indeed.
What we need is a nationwide dialogue about the British values we do (and perhaps don't) share - a dialogue that spans the sacred and the secular, the north and the south, the urban and the rural, and the advantaged and disadvantaged. It may well be that our schools are among the best drivers of this dialogue, but only if we downplay its didactic purpose in favour of our best traditions of democratic debate.
Refugees consistently face some of the toughest choices imaginable - whether to stay where they are and face rape, torture or death or leave behind their family, everything they have and know to embark on a dangerous - all too often fatal - flight into the unknown. Here's where I'm supposed to say: 'Imagine if it were you, facing such a choice. Imagine if it were your mother or brother". But you don't need to be patronised. We're all more than capable of empathy. Yet we continue to treat refugees with ignorance and even contempt. Why does our collective empathy so often fail to manifest in our treatment of such a vulnerable group?
The blaming of the number of foreign players for the decline of the England squad, like the blaming of immigrants for the decline of job opportunities or wages is a smokescreen, detracting from the real issue.
For many of the women who take these chances for better work or education, prison, or sometimes detention centres, can be a terrifying ordeal. With a lack of family presence and a very likely language and culture barrier, getting the right advice or support can be almost impossible for foreign national women,
A couple of weeks ago, Frank Field MP wrote an open letter to David Miliband about taking a harder (might I say UKIP) line on immigration. I wasn't impressed and wrote a reply - and Mr.Field subsequently replied to me. Below is my response to him.
A modern economy needs a constant flow of new labour -- both skilled and unskilled -- and immigration is the only way to get it. Germany, UK and America have built their economies on this and I met a lady from Silicone Valley, the centre of America's IT industry who said her industry's message to the US Government is simple: "give us more Indians."
Is it just me and the fact that I have my Google alerts set to pick up all immigration-related articles, or is immigration the word on everyone's lips? With the EU election having just past and the UK election being less than 12 months away, immigration will continue to be the buzz word on the political frontline for some time to come.