The conversation around immigrants is by no means an easy one to have, but it is an important one. We are constantly being led to believe that it is by far the most critical issue for voters, but many would argue that the cost-of-living crisis and the issues with the NHS are far more relevant and essential to them.
It’s well worth trying to get behind the headline grabbing ‘soundbites’ favoured both by politicians and the media. We have needed and benefitted from immigration over many years now, and many employers and academic institutions are hugely concerned about the alarmist messaging.
The easy route would be to bash the government and their focus on stopping small boats and sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. But it is hard to understand that sending one hundred asylum seekers at a time to Rwanda will be the horrifying deterrent we are asked to believe. Another small boat went down this week in the icy and freezing waters and tragically five of these illegal asylum seekers lost their lives. If their prepared to take this level of calamitous risk, why would they be put off by a threatened deportation to Rwanda? Especially when after a year of sabre rattling not one person has been deported. No business would tolerate or persist with this level of obvious failure.
So, given all the issues and problems and stark lack of progress – why do they persist with this failed initiative?
Maybe because it’s just beyond the ability of those responsibility to make any sort of dent in the continuously rising numbers. Or is it, as some would have us believe, a gimmicky deflection that has just got out of hand.
We must ask the question why is controlling immigration so tough for many developed nations in the west? It’s impossible to ignore the root causes of this determined immigration. Multiple catastrophic issues in their home countries have forced many to see staying put as just not an option anymore. Conflict, poverty, repression, poor healthcare, lack of schools and a climate of fear leads people to take any chance of getting to a better place.
The government slashed international aid in 2020. Britain lost its standing of being one of the leading lights of helping those nations less fortunate. This needs urgent review instead of paying the likes of Rwanda £240million, we might be better off helping these struggling communities in their homelands.
It is worth pointing out that non-EU immigrants are just 8% of the total.
Of course, controlling immigration is necessary but that doesn’t mean completely closing borders, or opening them completely, the solution is finding the balance.
Banner headlines quoting “invasion” and “swarms” are far from the truth and unnecessarily nasty and unhelpful. It might be ‘good politics but bad economics.’ I’m inclined to believe it is both bad politics and bad economics but that’s for another day.
With numbers on the rise, with 670,000 immigrants last year, policies have been focused on more than halving this to 300,000. The issue comes as concerns over illegal immigrants may overshadow the number of legal immigrants, leading to significant injustice.
Without a doubt, a huge driver in the need for immigrants comes from business. Simply, UK employers are struggling to find and afford staff who are UK citizens. Brits don’t want to do the dirty, mucky, low skilled low paid jobs but someone has to. Many companies have been honest with their struggles – natives in search of work do not agree with the minimum wage offered and have higher expectations when you correlate it to the drastic rise in the cost of living. To contrast, immigrants are willing to take on these jobs, in search of having a better life and acceptance, individuals need to make ends meet – despite the poor pay, it gives them a start.
Looking at other large cities in Europe, such as Paris, many jobs such as care-workers, cooks and construction workers are largely taken on by immigrants. I don’t think it would take long for you to find an immigrant in your local coffee shop or showing you to an office room at reception – so take a moment to think before you call small boats the big issue when it comes to immigration – one of the biggest issues is that we will lose out on so much.
What goes hand in hand with this is the need for students. With hundreds of Universities across the UK, there’s a slow decline in Britons having the dream of attending university, especially when a variety of employment options are open to them. Yet again, immigrants coming into Britain are often students. The majority embrace British culture, they spend in the local shops, they contribute to our economy. To say they ‘do nothing’ is just not true when it comes to the big picture. What becomes evident when we investigate the economics is that employers are struggling a lot more now, they are without the usual immigrant population. Small boat eradication should not be the UK’s biggest focus when it comes to immigration. Look closer to home.
What makes Britain great is the inclusive attitudes towards those we used to welcome from abroad. Students, employees and friends are never all the same – 14.8% of UK citizens were born overseas, alongside a rise in non-white native-born British citizens. We might not realise, we work with and grow up with immigrants, or descendants of.
I briefly touched on the cost-of-living crisis, an issue that millions are facing every day. When it comes to Britain’s problems, immigration doesn’t compare to the likes of cost of living and NHS. The lack of support and funding for the NHS has been called out endlessly, and strikes have become a common occurrence, yet we continue to see little positive change. With the constant price rises of basic goods and services, the biggest being energy prices, we’re leaving UK citizens in an extremely difficult position – these costs effect businesses most, which trickles down to hard working people losing their jobs and consequently their livelihoods. These are nurses, teachers, mothers, brothers. Did a few boats from France really cause all this turmoil? I’m not sure if there is a logical argument that says by eradicating these boats the turmoil will be fixed.
All points considered, and when we think about what actions need to be taken by our leaders, is immigration really the biggest issue to address?
Thought of the week:
Extraordinary times demands extraordinary inclusion
Tips for becoming an A player:
Be decisive but admit when you’re wrong.
The best things to do are to love, hope and do.
Practice being honest every day.
Keep everyone safe.
Include everyone – exclude no one.