Socialist Worker

Unpicking the myths about immigration

Home secretary Alan Johnson has called for a "debate" on immigration to engage what he calls Britain’s "moderate majority". He claims that discussing immigration is the way to undercut the fascist British National Party (BNP).</

Issue No. 2177

Will “tougher” action on immigration help to beat the BNP?

Johnson claimed last week that part of the attraction of the BNP was that “it is raising things that other political parties don’t raise”.

He meant immigration – yet this is nonsense.

Mainstream political parties barely stop talking about immigration.

This is particularly the case at times of economic crisis when politicians want to divert blame for poverty, lack of services and jobs onto anyone other than themselves and their system.

The BNP has managed to feed off a climate created by mainstream parties and their constant “tough talking” on immigration.

Being “tough” on immigration helps to give rise to racism and the idea that “outsiders” are a problem.

This is a dangerous position that helps the Nazis to appear respectable.

We’re in recession – can Britain afford to support more people?

The recession was not caused or made worse by how many people live in Britain.

It was triggered by the greed of those at the top of society, and by economic crisis built into the capitalist system.

Poverty, unemployment, lack of housing and services do not exist because too many people live in Britain.

They exist because the government stands for big business and the rich, rather than the needs of working class people.

Housing is a perfect example of how this works.

Many people are stuck in substandard housing, and some have no home at all.

This isn’t because immigrants have taken all the houses.

There are more than 800,000 empty homes in Britain, more than enough for everyone to have a decent place to live. The problem is that access to it is based on how much money you have.

So the rich have several homes, while the poorest are stuck on the streets.

The recession doesn’t mean that there is no money to support people.

The government has spent billions upon billions of pounds on bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bailing out the banks.

It has shown that, even during economic crisis, billions of pounds are available – but only for things that help those at the top.

Does immigration lead to fewer jobs and lower wages?

No – saying that employment and wage rates are the result of immigration is to look at the situation the wrong way around.

Migrant workers tend to leave countries if there are no jobs. Many reports into immigration patterns show that migrant workers make a significant contribution to economies and communities.

They also show that migration has no significant impact on employment rates. Several have shown that migrant workers have a positive effect on wage levels.

It is the bosses paying low wages who are responsible for poverty pay.

Divisions between migrant and “indigenous” workers will only make it easier for the bosses to get away with it.

And it is the government’s refusal to invest in things ordinary people so desperately need that boosts unemployment.

Do we need tighter immigration controls?

The government has recently changed its immigration policy to a points based system, one that prioritises highly trained professionals and wants to attract “entrepreneurs”.

This is part of the government’s strategy to put the needs of business first, before the needs of ordinary people who want to live in Britain.

The bosses and the government are hypocrites when it comes to immigration.

When the economy is expanding the government encourages people to come to Britain to fill the jobs.

But when those jobs disappear, they attack immigrants.

The rich can move themselves and their businesses freely around the globe.

Immigration controls exist to target the poor. They benefit those at the top of society while spreading division and racism.

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