The Two Sides Of The UK Immigration Debate: To Open Or Shut The Door?

Two reports on UK immigration have been released and two contradictory ideas have come to the fore. Are there too many non-European foreigners in the UK or should there be more?

According to MigrationwatchUK, a pressure group, Britain?s so called ?open door? policy which has allowed in as many 2.3 million people in the past 16 years, reflects how the UK?s immigration policy is out of control. While on the other hand a separate report from the Work Foundation believes that more skilled foreigners are needed in order to sustain UK?s strong economy.

This type of debate comes with the introduction of the five tier points based visa scheme, which is similar to the current Australian immigration policy. It focuses on the need for specific skills and points to be met before temporary or permanent immigration can take place.

Prior to the Migrationwatch figures it had been claimed by the UK government that the majority of those coming to the UK are from EU countries and ultimately any form of cap on immigration could not take place. This has proved false by Sir Andrew Green, Migrationwatch?s chairman.

Green has recently announced that only 8% of the over 2 million immigrants come from EU countries, with the majority coming from Africa and Asia. Therefore most of those coming to the UK are from third world nations. These foreigners are met with much resentment and have been called a tax burden, blamed for high crime levels and seen as effectively contributing to scarcer services.

But this kind of hostility is unfounded and essentially fuels the fire of anti-foreigner sentiment, believes the Work Foundation. They believe that UK immigration in fact keeps inflation down, aids the economy and provides foreign investment jobs.

Britain?s aging population; skills shortages and skilled UK workers moving abroad to seek other opportunities have made the fight for companies to find skilled professionals from abroad even greater. In sectors such as IT, technology and healthcare foreigners are constantly being brought in to fill severe gaps in these fields.

Yes, the points based system will make immigration more difficult, but it will ultimately attract those with the essential skills needed to maintain the UK?s economy. Migrationwatch nevertheless still think that this system is too lenient.

?The UK needs to be seen?as being among the most open and attractive places for highly skilled people to want to move,? said Katerina R?diger, author of the Work Foundation report. She adds that just 167 000 skilled professionals came to the UK from 2005; this is a relatively low proportion.

The UK needs to compete with other countries through their skills; R?diger believes that EU citizens alone are not enough to meet skills shortages, while Migrationwatch think that a figure of 9 out of 10 immigrants being non-European is something to worry about.

These two reports reflect the complete opposites on the immigration debate, one against third world immigration of foreigners while the other emphasises the economic benefits of this immigration. As the points system policy begins to get finalised for its autumn release, the debate continues to rage on.


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