Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The immigration high score table

The government has today announced it's plans for a points based immigration system. I don't see this as an awful measure, to be honest. In fact it's one of those things that I'm quite surprised hasn't come into effect a lot sooner, what with it being used in most of the old colonies already.

The main issue, of course, is management of the system. The government's handling of immigration and asylum so far hasn't exactly been stellar, and introducing a fairly complicated system to further vet immigration hopefuls might be too much of a challenge for them. So ten out of ten for the idea, zero out of ten for originality, zero out of ten for stealing an idea that Tories were discussing before the last election, and a big ? out of ten for how well the government will actually manage to implement a big new scheme.

The bigger issue though is of course asylum, and this measure will do nothing to help out either asylum or illegal immigration. It may even make illegal immigration more commonplace, as people who would otherwise have been allowed entry no longer qualify and seek to enter illegally instead. And a final point on the new system - online application. So we're definitely only interested in a certain type of immigrant then, God forbid you don't have easy access to the internet and would like to move to the UK.

Maybe that's a little too harsh. I do like this idea for its sensible approach to an otherwise confused and heated topic. Perhaps I'm at the point where I'm so jaded by this government and their big initiatives that even when they come up with a good one, I can't build up any enthusiasm. Either way, let's hope the government follows up on this announcement about immigration with a similarly sensible one on asylum, otherwise they are dealing with the easy problem while the hard one goes unsolved.

5 comments:

Bob Piper said...

I'm in danger of agreeing with you here, which would do absolutely nothing for my reputation. So... I thought I would take slight issue with you when you say... "So we're definitely only interested in a certain type of immigrant then." Sorry as it may seem, if we are going to have an immigration system which controls entry, it is inevitably going to be discriminatory. So you have to have a criteria, which leads us back to your point, I think. I'm sure we would all, in an ideal world, want totally unrestricted immigration. But it ain't gonna happen. So we have to choose 'the type of immigrant we want'. So I think you were right to say you might be being a bit harsh. At least Clarke has avoided islands somewhere (?) for asylum seekers whilst they were 'vetted' as suggested by Howard/Cameron. Small mercies and all that.

Biodun said...

Go with your instincts Mat, there is nothing to be enthusiastic about with this new system.

Today, doctors and scientists already get work permits more readily than unskilled labourers.
The government has done nothing but make the current system easier to understand by using points.

YOu are perfectly right to state that it is the management of the system that has gone all pear-shaped. Why is the government so scared to give an upper limit to annual immigration?

To me the main issue is people cheating the system. Using points doesn't stop people cheating the system.

Fraudulent asylum seekers who make it harder for us to spot the people who really need help, British citizens here, who send their passports back home for their relatives to travel here on, people who falsify documents to apply for visas, Those who claim to be coming here to get jobs where there are skills shortages, but go work in a blue-chip organisation as soon as the permit comes through....all sorts of stuff.

I touched on this subject earlier today. As you can see from the post, I'm quite bitter!

p.s Internet cafes are a dime a dozen in 3rd world-countries. The cafe entrepreneurs often help you fill out the American Visa Lottery Forms, (and presumably forms like this one) for a small fee. I doubt it's discriminatory at all.

MatGB said...

*cough* Paul wrote this post *cough*

I merely agree with most of it. I just regret the need for a system at all. The free marketeer in me wants free movement of goods, services and people, but, well, I acknowledge that isn't going to happen.

Bob, you're right, it's better than islands somewhere, and it seems to be at least thought through. Hope they follow up the rhetoric properly.

Biodun is of course correct about cheats, they can cause havoc for us at work as well, lot's of legitimate clients get turned away from visas because of illegitimate cheats scaring ECOs off. *must not talk shop*

Ah well. I have a post planned. I have to catch up on 3 days worth of reading first though...

Martin said...

Bob,

You write that,

"I'm sure we would all, in an ideal world, want totally unrestricted immigration"

I would suggest that you are speaking for yourself. Some of us want nothing of the sort.

In what way would unrestricted immigration possibly help us? It suits certain political objectives, certainly; all of our main parties seem to see nothing immoral in emptying the Third World of its middle classes, so that we can adhere to a statist model of healthcare which was formulated in the late 1940's enabling us to see a doctor without charge. You might have to wait six months to see a specialist - but it will be free.

Of course, many people now wouldn't wait six months before making a decision on whether to fly BA or Ryanair, to get a contract mobile phone from either O2 or Orange or to select an internet service provider between a choice of BT or AOL. But they still seem happy to wait six months to obtain life-enhancing medical treatment because it's on the NHS.

That's politics for you. Go figure.

It's not free at all, of course; its costs are funded by taxation, which citizens have no right not to pay if they feel they will be misused.

My religious beliefs demand that I oppose abortion at all times and under all circumstances, yet the state demands that I subsidise them. Tell me, who speaks for me in that debate? Will you?

The people the government is seeking to fast-track into the UK are those their countries most need in order to lift them out of poverty. That's the role of the middle classes throughout history, back to the first time their presence was first recorded in ancient Athens. Is enticing such people not merely continuing the cycle of poverty in their own lands?

Or does the immigration system now exist merely to provide us with a rentier class of indentured servants?

What of the social costs of immigration, in terms of the crime your constituents pay the police to prevent and detect? Do you keep a record of the sheer volume of crime committed in the UK by non-UK nationals? I try to- take it from me, it's scary!

But the resources that have to be used to detect and prosecute such crime were obtained by levies on citizens on the understanding that their own communities would be safer as a result. Any citizen who still thinks that should read of the crimes committed by, amongst very many others, Darius Stasionis, Isaac Mutubila, Aram Ali, Jason King and Tasim Axhami.

They'll find their answer there. Not pleasant reading at all for mass immigration enthusiasts, but an answer nonetheless.

I must apologise for subjecting you to such a distasteful right-wing rant, Bob; but a very odd tendency to prefer facts over ideology makes me do that sometimes.

Biodun,

The government will not give an upper annual limit to migration because to do so has the potential to throw a spanner in Gordon Brown's works.

In June 2005, the Governor of the Bank of England acknowledged the role played by mass migration, specifically mass migration post-Nice Treaty, in keeping down inflation. This is effected by dampening upward pressure on wages, and confirms the findings of a study conducted by Prof. George Borjas of Harvard, the world's foremost immigration economist, entitled 'The labour demand is downward sloping', published in 2003.

(Borjas is a Cuban immigrant. Glad to get the qualifier out the way).

Borjas found that a 10% increase in the labour pool diminishes real wages by a factor of 3-4%.

Brown will be moving up to the top job soon, and needs a record as a competent economic manager to bolster his credibility. What better test of a finance minster than his record in keeping down inflation?

And if it's worked so far, why turn off the spigot of resources that keeps the whole cup-and-ball game moving?

The house of cards has the potential to come crashing down at any time, of course. The competition for resources caused by the economic expansion of coastal China has consistently pushed up commodity prices over the last five years. They also buy a massive volume of dollars to fund George W. Bush's six-year spending spree. If they throw a wobbly and decide to invade Taiwan, they dump their dollars; the $ sinks; and we have inflation. And Gordon Brown can do absolutely nothing to stop it.

Paul/Mat,

Sorry to have taken up so much space.

There is no such thing as a market in immigration.

Nations are not markets.

Kheng said...

I suppose my viewpoint on immigration is affected by the fact that I'm an overseas student who wishes to work in a City investment bank after graduation, but when it comes to hi-end jobs, it benefits the UK to have a liberal immigration policy. Using the City as an example, if the UK wishes to compete with other centres of finance in the world, it needs the best brains from around the world. Places like Singapore have long realised this, which is why they try to encourage 'foreign talent' to boost their financial industry. Who cares if there is a Singaporean who can do the job? If there is a Chinese or an Indian (or a Brit) who is much much better than the S'porean, give the job to the foreigner. It seems that the UK is belatedly realising this. Under the new immigration plans, high flying immigrants such as Goldman Sachs investment bankers would be able to apply for settlement within 2 years which is literally copying the Singapore policy.

When it comes to jobs where competition with the rest of the world is less of an issue, like plumbers or the NHS, then of course the UK should try to hire its own first. However, we have to be realistic. As much as we would like to have 100% British doctors and nurses in our hospitals, this is unlikely to ever happen. It is extremely difficult to convince people to choose nursing or medicine as a career. Even if we were able to, there would be the fact that it takes time to train all these doctors and nurses, so in the meantime, we will have to rely on foreigners. Plus, training doctors and nurses is extremely expensive and with the NHS stretched as it is financially, are there perhaps other things we want to spend on?

The thing about skill shortages is that they take time to remedy, and they can suddenly appear without warning. Thus, even if we agree with the principle of hiring our own, we have to asknowledge that in the short run, immigrants are needed, and training of British people to fill these jobs is only a medium run strategy.

When it comes to immigration, we have to be realistic and pragmatic, and many people are not.