What with local UK and European elections next week, there’s been a lot of talk on immigration. Farage/UKIP, following a string of racism scandals, continues its racist rhetoric and pressures Miliband/Labour into following suit with some xenophobic pandering of its own in the hopes of holding on to the blue-collar vote.
They remind me – once again – that we urgently need to change the public and policy discourse from immigration to integration.
Not a single person in the entire history of the human species has ever chosen which country to be born in, and yet this accident of birth has a tremendous influence in determining how one’s life will pan out. Immigration – the movement of people – is hence about justice and equality. The actual movement of humans across a national border causes no problems. A failure to integrate them into their new communities and societies, however, will.
Academic findings by Oxford and UCL show that immigrants make a positive net contribution to the UK economy and are less likely than native-born Brits to receive state benefits or live in social housing. The same story holds true for New Zealand and other countries. In other words, immigrants are good for the economy – so let’s redirect our efforts towards making everyone more relaxed about them. Let’s introduce better integration policy! Because people should have the right to move where they want to be and to be able to call that new place ‘home’.