And so it goes on… natural disasters continue in 2021. These events are so under-reported it’s almost as though they don’t happen. Compare how much we hear about immigration and all of its negatives associations; it’s boldly ironic, particularly since the rise in Global immigration is a significant consequence of human displacement due to the climate crisis which has been significantly accelerated by Western industrialism.
All the immigration talk bothers me. The Leave/Remain Brexit campaign in 2016 overtly showed the unpleasant side of the UK; friends, associates and even family, expressed their opposition to immigration, so much so that we scored an own goal and voted to leave Europe.
Patriotism they said; racism I knew…
I’m a first-generation immigrant; both my parents were born in Ghana, met in the UK and set up home. Public opinion on immigration in the United Kingdom is divided. Research by the Migration Observation at the University of Oxford found that most of the UK population do not want more immigration:
However, despite the clear opposition to overall immigration, there were clear preferences regarding the ‘type’ of immigrant admitted across the UK border. British people make clear distinctions between immigrants based on their country of origin. In 2017, only 10% of British citizens opposed Australian immigrants compared to 37% saying no Nigerians should be permitted.
‘Ethnic hierarchy’ is at the core of systemic racism. Race, religion, language, culture and other separating indicators impacted the opinions of the UK natives surveyed when it came to judging who should be allowed in to ‘their’ country. At the preferred end of the scale were white, English-speaking, European and Christian countries, while at the least preferred are non-whites, non-Europeans and Muslim countries.
Only last week, people of colour were again gaslit following the release of the Government’s Race and Ethnic Disparities report which stated that the UK “no longer” has a system rigged against people from ethnic minorities. I’m not going to give this report the attention it doesn’t deserve; however, I had to mention it to demonstrate just how deeply compromised the system is that even those in power with a duty to quash inequality openly enable these disparities to go unchallenged. Scandals such as Windrush would never have happened if racism didn’t still exist in the UK.
The false narratives around immigration and the propaganda surrounding it are why even the most educated individual could get lost in this implicit bias. I’m going to break down some of the myths surrounding immigration because the way in which we think and process information, will help us make better informed and humane decisions.
The impact of immigration on the UK workforce
MYTH: Immigration hurts UK workers making it harder for British citizens to get jobs
FACT: As immigrants are more likely to be working-age and bring with them dependants, they generally tend to increase the labour force and increase the economy’s potential output capacity. Besides this, immigration increases the demand for labour and expand consumer demand for certain goods and services. Additionally, immigrants can fill labour gaps and provide skills not available in the native workforce.
Research showed there is a clear consensus that immigration doesn’t appear to impact UK natives’ employment outcomes negatively. Overall, the evidence suggests that immigration to the UK likely boosts productivity and per capita GDP.
The impact of immigration on the Education system
MYTH: Immigrant children are burdening the education system
FACT: The main driver of changes in the demand for school places is the number of children being born, rather than the recent international migration of children. In January 2018, approximately 7% of children in state-funded primary schools and 10% in state-funded secondary schools in England were born outside the UK.
The direct impact of international immigration on the demand for school places works in both directions; decreased demand for school places due to children leaving the UK to live in another country and increased demand for school places due to children moving to the UK.
The cost of immigration on the public’s pocket
MYTH: Immigrants increase the UK’s tax bill.
FACT: In 2020, the Financial Times reported that immigrants were responsible for the UK’s top income growth and taxes. According to research based on HM Revenue & Customs tax records, the vast majority of growth in top incomes and taxes in the UK over the past 20 years has come from foreign migrants.
Research also showed that rather than low-skilled migrants taking British jobs, companies create jobs in the UK for high-income foreign workers paying UK taxes.
Immigration and housing
MYTH: Immigrants drive down housing values
FACT: There is some evidence that immigration is likely to have increased UK house prices. Immigrants have lower home-ownership rates than the UK born and are more likely to be in the private rental sector, increasing average UK house prices, especially in urbanised areas such as London.
Immigrants’ work ethic
MYTH: Immigrants are lazy and rely on Government handouts
FACT: According to the Home Office, immigrants tend to work longer hours than natives. Employers reported that immigrant workers are often harder working, reliable and motivated compared to their British counterparts. Many immigrants go on to set up businesses and contribute significantly to the economy and public purse.
Covid demonstrated on a mass scale just how valuable and dedicated overseas workers are, especially in healthcare, construction and other services beneficial to the public. Immigration, particularly from countries with brown natives, should not be politically weaponised. Immigrants are real people with real contributions to offer. Immigrants of colour disproportionately passed away from Covid however continued to put their lives on the line, never stopping the support offered to people in this country.
The reality is, we are all displaced, so how anyone tell others where they belong? The UK has been a prolific outsourcer of immigrants – the US, Australia, South Africa are among the countries violently overtaken by the Brits. Native Americans, Aboriginals and Black Africans are still struggling (right now) to get ahead and thrive on their home turf.
This country’s imperialist past needs to be genuinely acknowledged and considered when creating immigration policies, in order to earnestly accommodate the inevitable diversified future and right their many wrongs.
Sending light and love always.
Office of National Statistics
The Migration Observory (Oxford University)