Sections of the right wing media have seized on figures that show employment for non-British nationals is increasing.
“Migrants grab 12,000 jobs a month,” screamed the front page of the Daily Express.
The paper claimed that “figures show nine out of ten new jobs going to foreigners”.
But the figures show no such thing.
The number of people entering the workforce cannot be directly compared to the number of new jobs.
There are always people leaving and entering the workforce in different ways—people leave paid work to have children, older people retire, young people start work for the first time.
So in any given year more people enter the workforce than the number of new jobs would suggest.
But comparing the two very different figures allows the Express to make outrageous claims.
This kind of distortion has become so familiar that the Office for National Statistics issues its briefings with a health warning.
“The estimates relate to the number of people in employment rather than the number of jobs,” it says.
“These statistics have sometimes been incorrectly interpreted as indicating the proportion of new jobs that are taken by foreign migrants.”
This hasn’t stopped Tory ministers from blaming unemployment on migrants.
Employment minister Chris Grayling condemned the “unacceptable” case of one London sandwich shop staffed entirely by foreign-born workers.
But migrant workers are not to blame for the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the bank bailouts. They don’t implement cuts either.
The figures show that unemployment is rising because jobs are disappearing, not because migrants are “taking” them.
And jobs are disappearing because of cuts in the public sector and redundancies in the private sector.
It is sickening hypocrisy for the Tories to claim to be sticking up for British-born workers at the same time as cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Immigration controls have repeatedly been tightened in recent decades, and every time it is an attack on workers.
No-one proposes restricting the rights of billionaires like Lakshmi Mittal and Roman Abromovich to move across borders.
But migrant workers have been deported after organising campaigns for union recognition and the London Living Wage.
Stirring up hostility towards migrant workers is one of the oldest tricks in the book for those at the top.
But challenging unemployment means fighting to stop cuts and save jobs—and this means unity between workers, wherever they are from.