Tag Archives: immigration

Liberal Democrats need to play smart on immigration and border controls

If we are to learn from the lessons of Trump becoming President and the EU referendum, we progressive politicians must play smarter in the area of immigration. This does not mean aping Mr Trump or Nigel Farage but working out where the real blame lies for failures in our border controls and who has accountability for fixing them.

The current government has decided landlords and schools are suddenly  quasi immigration officers. Even the Daily Mail noted that the government pilot project to require landlords to check tenants rights to live in the UK had been an abject failure. Many parents at my own children’s school complained about the need to audit the nationalities of their children and where their parents were from. Parents were not even told this was optional and that they could refuse to complete the census. The head teacher complained of the administrative burden of this new dictat. Quite rightly so, given no extra resources were given to schools to carry out this work.

This brings me back to where I think we as Liberal politicians should be looking to do more around border controls. The introduction of proper exit checks last year was long overdue and the Lib Dems contributed to this in the Coalition. Yet individual landlords and schools are being asked to mop up the mess created by previous governments. Technology initiatives from the Labour government on immigration control during the 2000s cost up to £1 billion and were not fit for purpose.

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Theresa May went to India, and all I got was a lousy T-shirt…

I am one of those people who have often wondered why British governments pay relatively little attention to India. After all, it’s a big country, with an emerging middle class who want to travel, buy luxury goods and send their children to good universities overseas. Why wouldn’t we want to build stronger links with a Commonwealth country that is likely to be one of the world’s largest economies before too long? And yet, the attention of our politicians and diplomats often seems biased towards China.

Frankly though, after Theresa May’s trip to New Delhi and Bengaluru, I almost wish that she …

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Farron: Government doesn’t understand needs of universities or public perceptions of immigration

Universities UK has published the results of a poll carried out by ICM which shows that only a quarter of people think of foreign students as immigrants and that the vast majority of people think that foreign students make a valuable contribution and should be allowed to stay on to work here after graduation.

Two-thirds agreed that international students have a positive impact on the local economies of the towns and cities that they study in, and three in five (59%) agreed that their economic contribution helps create jobs.

The poll also indicated that seven in ten adults believe it is better if international students use their skills here and work in the UK for a period of time in order to contribute to the economy rather than returning immediately to their home country after completing their stud

 Almost half (47%) of those polled believed there should be no limit on how long international students should be able to stay and work in the UK after they have completed their study, providing they are employed and contributing to the economy.

Tim Farron had this to say about the poll:

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LibLink: Willie Rennie: The Conservatives are fanning the flames of xenophobia

Willie Rennie writes in the Times that the Tories are throwing petrol on the fires of prejudice unleashed by the Leave campaign during the EU Referendum.

Telling doctors from other countries who are here saving lives in our NHS that their position is only secure until we can rush a crop of new graduates through medical school is not responsible. Telling people from other countries who are thinking about moving here to work and pay taxes that their names might be included on a list of foreign workers is not responsible.

If we are publishing lists of foreign workers, we may as well pull up the drawbridge. These policies are not about controlling immigration. They are about demonising immigrants.

The message this sends to foreign students, medical staff, businesses and others is clear. You are not welcome here. As a liberal who has always believed that we can achieve more when we work with those around us, this does not just make me sad. It makes me incredibly angry.

The Scottish Conservatives are just as responsible as their colleagues, he adds:

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: May’s legacy on immigration detention is callous and cold

Alistair Carmichael has written an article for the Times Red Box website in which he slams Theresa May’s record on immigration detention:

32,000 people is half the population of my home town.

He explains why immigration detention is so bad:

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Lib Dems react to closure of Cedars family immigration facility

One of the great things that Liberal Democrats ensured was that children would no longer be detained for immigration purposes. Instead, a pre-departure facility for families, Cedars, was set up with advice and support from Barnardos.

When we left Government, I feared it would be a matter of time before this excellent facility was closed.

And so, amid the flurry of announcements put out by the Government on the last day before the Summer recess, the news came yesterday. Cedars was being closed and families with children will once again be held in a detention centre Tinsley House.

Unsurprisngly, Liberal Democrats have reacted with horror.

Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Cedars was a civilised way of dealing with some of the most vulnerable young people in our care.

Ending the detention of children in lock-down institutions was something that the Liberal Democrats forced Theresa May as Home Secretary to do against her will. Now there are no restraints on her, she will indulge the more callous instincts of her party.

Having Tories in government is a bit like sharing your home with a cat. You may think that you have a domestic pet but the feral animal is never far beneath the surface.

He also sought assurances that families in Scotland would not be held in the Dungavel facility:

One of the first things that Lib Dems in government forced the then Home Secretary Theresa May to do was end the detention of children for immigration purposes. Days after coming to power she has thrown away years of progress.

What this decision means in practice is a return to situation where young children will find themselves in detention centres surrounded by razor wire and guards. This is a huge step backwards.

Previously, we had seen some children locked up at Dungavel for more than a year and there were damning reports on the level of educational support provided to children at the site. The last thing we need is a return to a situation where young people in the immigration system are treated like cattle, not children.

The Prime Minister needs to scrap her plans to close Cedars and we need urgent assurances that this inhumane decision will not open the door to a return to child detention at Dungavel.

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It’s time to be positive about immigration

The only publicly acceptable approach to immigration seems to be, more or less, stating “immigration is a problem” and then making vague promises to control it in some way. This was particularly obnoxious in the run up to, and aftermath of, the referendum but it has been the case for some time. If we really want to stand out, and promote a truly liberal approach, we need to do the opposite. We need to stand up and say “immigration is a solution”. As liberals we understand the importance of everyone being able to pursue their own good in their own way. This entails a positive approach to immigration. Right now we should be pushing to make sure we retain free movement within the EEA. In the future we should be working to liberalise migration arrangements with the rest of the world as well.

This doesn’t mean that in practice we have to advocate for completely open borders, no matter how ideologically attractive such a system might be. There are genuine issues with rapid population growth, such as short term strain on public services and downward pressure on wages, and we should address these, but not by following the popular route of promoting the illiberal idea that immigration is a problem in itself. Instead we must emphasise the benefits of immigration, both in economic terms and in terms of individual freedom, and confront the myths that support the xenophobia behind a portion of the Brexit vote.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEdis Bevan 9th Dec - 1:21pm
    There are some serious and painful discussions we all need to go though here.... Been looking at some of these issues and would welcome comments...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 9th Dec - 1:21pm
    Helen, I am so glad you have written this, as I have long felt we in Britain should not continue to look for more income...
  • User AvatarNick Baird 9th Dec - 1:18pm
    Ben - I understand the principle of what you are saying, but in practice would this help? Any employer is likely to want to see...
  • User AvatarNick Baird 9th Dec - 1:08pm
    The Steady State Economy is always going to be a tough sell when we have any like the current level of wealth inequality in our...
  • User AvatarRoland 9th Dec - 12:57pm
    By contrast, one European state, Germany has actively been pursuing economic growth by using immigration policies to halt population decline and fend off stasis Only...
  • User AvatarTom Papworth 9th Dec - 12:55pm
    Glenn, Economic expansion did not require war, genocide, imperialism, plunder and slavery. That is just a marxian myth. In fact,war, genocide, imperialism, plunder and slavery...