David's Views: Immigration
Around the world there is one thing that always marks out the regimes with the most repressive style of governance from the rest and that is a very restrictive view of both immigration and migration. They see immigrants as dangerous outsiders who will stir the population to rebellion and they see migrants leaving as a sign to the outside world that their rule is not as perfect as they want the world to believe. As a consequence they ban or try to ban both.
Thankful Britain has always been an open, welcoming country, and thousands of businesses, schools and hospitals rely on people who've come to live here from overseas. Through this process we have very strong links with many parts of the world and this can be good for many things like trade and getting international help at a time of national need.
Yet you equally cannot have unchecked and uncontrolled immigration, there needs to be a balance, we do after all live on a small island. So there are a number of rules that have to be made to control who can and who cannot live here, the basic rules are:-
- Within the European Union there is free moment of people for work, rest and play. This has result in many people coming here to work, as well as many more going to the likes of Spain and France to retire.
- Other countries have degrees of needing or not needing a visa depending on whether people wish to come here to work, be on holiday or just to live.
Generally these rules work fine, but there changes that are required. Not so much to the rules but mainly to the way the system is managed, because government mismanagement over the years has left the current immigration system in chaos. The Government has:-
- Failed to plan properly for new migrants, making it harder for people to integrate.
- Failed to keep proper checks, so many people are here illegally, due to not even having exit checks at our airports to ensure people here on temporary visas go home on time.
So my views are - the system does require some change:-
For new member EU states all countries should adopt the same rules - Because this has caused a problem when not all the countries have the same rules. Recently with the entry of new eastern European member states to the union, some countries decided to let the freedom of movement rules apply straight away, while others said no lets wait for a couple of years. This caused problems with thousand more eastern Europeans coming to countries like the UK and Denmark than planned, rather than going somewhere like Germany or France.
Immediately reintroduce exit checks - count people out as well as in - Over the years, the Conservatives and then Labour made a huge mistake: they abolished exit checks for people leaving the country, so we have no idea who is here and who isn't. These checks should be reintroduce immediately.
Focus deportation efforts on criminals - let law-abiding families earn citizenship - It would take years and cost us £8bn to deport all those who are living in Britain illegally. Some of them are criminals and people-traffickers. Others are families who have been here for years, who just want to work and pay their taxes. Yet currently immigration officers are focusing on families because they're easy targets and letting criminals off the hook. A much better approach is to let people who have been in Britain for 10 years, speak English, have a clean record and want to live here long-term to earn citizenship. Then immigration officers can spend all their time deporting dangerous people and checking up on employers to stop illegal working.
Have a regional points-based system to ensure migrants go where they are needed - Some parts of Britain, like Scotland, need and want more people to help the economy. Others, like the South East, are struggling to find enough water and homes for everyone. This must change so it's easier to get a work permit if you go and live in a part of the country that is short of workers and to encourage newcomers to live where they are needed.
UK Border Force - For too long, Britain's borders have been a soft touch. The steady flow of undocumented migrants into this country has undermined our historic liberal attitude towards immigration. The Government's stop-start, piecemeal approach has failed to get a grip on the problem, and their Border Agency lacks the powers necessary to do its job properly. So a strong, unified, co-ordinated National Border Force with police powers to protect our borders effectively should be established.
The bottom line:
- I believe it would be wrong to try and "pull up the drawbridge", but I believe you have to manage migration so it benefits Britain and is fair for everyone. The changes I have outlined above will achieve that.