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Should we limit how many migrants are allowed in?

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Issue 2470

Should we limit how many migrants are allowed in? Hundreds of thousands of refugees are trying to escape war and find safety across Europe. 

Their awful plight has caused politicians to debate how many of them Britain should let into the country. Many people, rightly, think David Cameron was cruel to initially say Britain should take no more refugees.

There’s also a common sense view that we have to think about numbers because there must be a limit to how many people a country can sustain.

But there are lots of problems with this idea.

Firstly a huge amount of resources in Britain are being wasted or hoarded by the rich. The richest people in Britain more than doubled their wealth in the six years to April. The wealthiest 1,000 are “worth” a staggering £547 billion.

Meanwhile overproduction leads to huge amounts of waste instead of being used to meet the needs of ordinary people—British-born and migrant.

And “resources” don’t have a fixed limit. Some services, such as schools and hospitals, are under terrific strain. But that’s because governments impose cuts and selloffs instead of investing in them.

The truth is we can expand services to meet need. More migrants in Britain means more potential workers to fuel an expansion because ordinary people contribute to society—unlike the rich.

What about space? 

For some people the idea of tens of thousands of migrants coming to Britain can sound daunting. Where would they all go?


But Britain is certainly not “full up”. There are an over 600,000 empty homes in Britain. Some have been allowed to fall into disrepair. Others are the extra homes of the rich—or those that bankers have snapped up in the hope of making future profit. 

And Britain’s golf courses take up twice as much space as housing does.

Worries about resources and space are fuelled by another myth—that everyone wants to come to Britain. 

Some say that without “tough” controls there will be chaos. Yet history shows this is not true. Immigration controls didn’t exist in Britain until the early 20th century. 

The entire world did not come to Britain.

Those at the top whip up panic about border controls regardless of immigration figures because it is in their interest to do so. Immigration controls encourage racism and the idea that ordinary people should fear or despise those who live elsewhere. 

They help our rulers scapegoat migrants for the problems we face rather than turning our anger on them.

United struggle can win improvements to our lives, such as better hospitals or housing. But turning on each other makes that struggle weaker.

Socialist Worker is against all border controls. We think people should be able to go where they like—whatever the reason. 

As many migrants and refugees who want to come here should be able to do so. The idea that politicians imposing savage cuts want to protect resources and services for ordinary people born in Britain is a joke. They are the threat to our standard of life—not refugees.

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