What’s the Point of Immigration Control?

The point of Australian rules is not just for football…

The “Brexit” campaign really turned up the volume on cries for a Australian, points-based immigration system .  People wanted to know why we don’t have one, when we are going to get one, and when we are going to use it.

Um. Well…we do have one.  We have had it for over 8 years.

It currently only applies to non-EU migrants, and no-one knows what will happen to EU migration after the UK exits the EU.  In reality no-one really knows much about what a post “Brexit” Britain will look like.

One of the main problems is a misunderstanding of the true effects of immigration on UK society.  It has become fashionable to scapegoat immigrants as the source of all evil.  The housing shortage, over-filled schools, and strain on the NHS are all used as reasons to restrict our borders.

However, the shortage of housing is the result of failed building programmes and targets. Problems with school places are the result of not enough schools being built.  The strains on the NHS – and social care, Police, Fire Service, etc. – are the result of cuts and austerity.

Yet we still hear immigrants being blamed for all these woes.

Australian style points

So how is a points system supposed to help?  It reduced the number of non-skilled workers getting to come and work in the UK from outside the EU already.  Skilled workers from non-EU states are managed under a strict quota which is divided up each month.  When that quota is met, the door is slammed shut.

The only exceptions are in shortage professions, such as doctors or nurses.  Of course, one has to wonder why we have such a shortage in this country. Is it lack of interest, poor education, or the fact that so few people can afford to do the training any more?

If the latter is the case, the only people being attracted to the country are those who already have enough money to survive, or require a job offer as part of the application.  But that would contradict the notion that immigrants come to the country to “scrounge” from our benefits system.

When it comes to EU nationals, in 2014 EU nationals accounted for just 2.5% of benefits paid out by the DWP.  More importantly, “in work” benefits (tax credits) paid out to EU workers accounted for only 1.6% of the tax bill in 2013, and little has changed since then.

To point the finger…

Whilst we spend our time worrying about EU immigrants taking employment and benefits money from the UK, it seems more like we have taken our eye off the ball. We have had our eyes diverted away from the game altogether by the media spinning us round so fast, arguing the point of a points-based system.

Perhaps more attention should be paid to the number of EU immigrants coming to UK, committing crimes and ending up in UK prisons.  These numbers have been rising by hundreds, even thousands of percent over the past couple of years.  To make the matters worse, some criminals from countries such as Romania have been protected from being sent back to serve their prison sentences in their home country by Human Rights legislation.

So a growing number of EU immigrations have come to the UK and ended up costing the tax payer a princely sum of £150m.  Whether this situation will change or not as part of Brexit is totally uncertain.  If we are to be realistic, it is hard to imagine any negotiations including the condition that the UK can suddenly ship back all those prisoners to their home countries.

 “Anyone who moves to the UK should have a job or the ability to support themselves.”

~ Chris Grayling

The problem with Grayling’s point is that it refers to a tiny proportion of the population.  There are more people “native” to, or born in the UK who don’t have such means or inclination to support themselves.

So we romanticise about how an Australian system can save us from “swarms of immigrants” continuing to flood the UK’s stretched public services.  Brexit might be able to change the rules on EU movement, but it is in the field of criminal justice where the issues really lie.

It seems quite ironic that an immigration control system similar to that used in Australia could help to control the entry of undesirables from the EU into the UK…

…when one reflects on how the British Empire first colonised the country back in the 18th century.

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Useful links

BBC – Immigration points-based systems compared

Migration Statistics

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