The perception of immigration and the impact it has on local economy and employment are distorted by the media and government propaganda.
The Home Office UK Border Agency site publishes constantly updated statistics. The November 2009 data show that immigration to the UK has been decreasing in recent years. 2009 has seen a reduction of 24% compared to 2008, the granting of asylum has fallen 12%, the applications from Eastern Europeans to work in the UK has fallen around 30%. A large percentage of the first wave of Eastern European immigrants have returned to their countries after a short stay in the UK.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) November 2009 figures also show that net migration fell to 163,000 in 2008, from 233,000 in 2007.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: ‘Net migration is falling, showing that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home. […]
Saskia Sassen, in her Global City, New York, London, Tokyo, makes some very interesting points as to the gap between the perception and the reality of immigration, labor and community formation in these cities. London’s population in 1996 counted 5.358.000 white people and 1.636.000 non-white from all ethnic minorities combined. The 2006 figures are respectively 5.163.000 and 1.921.000, hardly the overwhelming invasion claimed by the BNP and some sections of society.
From the UK Border Agency site:
“We will control the numbers coming to the UK to maximise benefits for Britain
In 2008 net migration, as measured by the International Passenger Survey, fell to 118,000 from 209,000 in 2007, the lowest since the eight accession countries joined the EU in 2004. This represents a reduction of 90,000 in net migration to the UK.”
• Source: Office of National Statistics (ONS). Published on 27 August 2009.
“Asylum intake is less than a third of the level when it peaked in 2002”
“Migrants from accession countries have paid more in taxes then they’ve received in benefits and public services each year since 2004. In 2008/09, contribution to tax revenues exceeded expenditure by a ratio of 1.37.”
“Migrants from the A8 accession countries are 60% less likely than the native population to receive benefits and are 58% less likely to live in social housing. When these results are adjusted for demographic factors such as age, gender, education and dependent children, accession migrants are still 13% less likely to claim benefits and 28% less likely to live in social housing.”
• Source: Dustmann, Frattini and Halls – Assessing the Fiscal Costs and Benefits of A8 Migration to the UK Published in 2009.
“Migrants can have a positive impact on public services through employment in public sector occupations – for example, the OECD in 2007 estimated that 33% of doctors working in the UK health service in 2005 were trained overseas.”
• Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2007.
Already in 1984 Castles and Booth in their “Here for Good: Western Europe’s new ethnic minorities” analyzed the changes societies were undergoing due to the growing presence of people from many different countries and cultures. They compared different approaches implemented by societies that were undergoing a similar process, principally the UK, Canada and Australia. The same theme is developed further by Castles and Miller in 1998 in their “The age of migration: international populations movements in the modern world”. They take into consideration the resurgence of racism in these societies as a direct consequence of economic crises that exacerbate the tension between groups.
Sassen (ibid, 2001) observes how a combination of people’s attitudes and local government policies converge to form different perceptions of community and how these translate in the practice of daily life. Sassen relates changes and attitudes directly and starkly to the changes in global economics that not only determine the wealth and availability of work locally, but also are behind the migratory movements between various parts of the world. The magnet of global cities is ever stronger and governments must take these shifts in population and the cultural changes they imply very seriously if any form of cohesive society has to be achieved.
Castles and Miller, The Age of Migration (Chapters: The State and International Migration: The Quest for Control and Migrants and Minorities in the Labour Force)
Clear analysis of the pattern of migration and how these are now regulated by supra-national mechanisms that greatly diminish the power of control of national government, which nevertheless must convince their citizens they have the power to regulate and manage the influx and distribution of migrants.
Also how the contribution of immigrants, both in cultural and economic terms, is often greater than the cost.
The British government would gain by taking into consideration these analyses and translate them into policies that would benefit British society and result in long lasting changes.
Castles and Kosack (1973) discuss how already in the 60s French large trade unions were taking restrictive positions regarding immigration, believing that massive entry of cheap unregulated labor would have given free rein to bosses to resist the demands of local working class. This is a common position in Europe and the US that places “native” working classes against new immigrants.
Similar positions were taken by American trade unions at the beginning of the 20th century. In the words of one of the founding fathers of the American labor movement: “[…] it is simply a case of self-preservations of the American working class” (Gompers 1911).
Julia R. Watts – Immigration policy and the challenge of globalisation – Unions and employers in unlikely alliance:
It is since the 70s that globalisation has reduced the ability of government to control immigration, some labor movements are beginning to reverse their position and believe that restricting immigration results in increase in illegal unregulated situations which, on the long run, have negative consequences for both immigrants and local labour populations.
Spanish, French and Italian labor organisations were among the first in Europe to put pressure on their government to change immigration policies, turning them into regulatory systems rather than restrictive ones, in the belief that migration is a inevitable and fundamental component of globalisation.
A large percentage of the public opinion in most western countries is opposed to immigration; this includes a large number of people who were immigrants themselves. Facchini and Mayda (2008) published an interesting study on the “median pro-immigration public opinion” covering a large number of European countries and the US.
Anderson, K. and L.A. Winters (2008), “The Challenge of Reducing International Trade and Migration Barriers”, published by the Copenhagen Consensus 2008: […] “an increase in migrants from developing to high-income countries that accumulates to a 3 percent boost in the latter’s labour force (both skilled and unskilled) by 2025 might increase global income by nearly $700 billion a year by 2025.” and “this evidence strongly supports the view that gradual reductions in wasteful subsidies and trade barriers, including barriers to migration, would yield huge benefits for little economic cost.”
A dramatic shift in psychological attitude is required to allow these principles to become applicable to the reality of citizens in western countries.
Radical changes are necessary at the level of primary education curriculum, with a much more articulated and deep level of information on world geography, history, languages and religions.
The “pure” society that is believed to have existed at some point in the past is an illusion with no historical substance. Immigrants must be accepted with their identity, expected to respect the rules of civil society, where the respect is mutual. Fostering reciprocal understanding is essential, abandoning the assumption that immigrants have to unquestioningly accept the British way of life.
It is unthinkable to expect immigrants to wholly accept a way of life that for many appear totally illogical and in many cases even immoral and offensive.
Scary titles have repeatedly appeared in the press in recent years:
• Muslim Europe: the demographic time bomb transforming our continent
• Muslim population ‘rising 10 times faster than rest of society’
• Officials think UK’s Muslim population has risen to 2m
• U.K. Muslim Population Surges
Data from the 2001 UK census, as well as more recent data, are available through the websites of the Office of National Statistics and the UK Border Agency, for all to see and clearly demonstrating how these titles are false and misleading.
See also a BBC clarification “debunking a YouTube hit” and various videos on youtube for and against the issue