Immigration is a topic that not every individual would like to discuss, but its an issue that we hear and see every day. There is a high increase in immigrants entering the United Kingdom from European Union countries. Immigration is a subject that’s difficult to collect detailed data from as there is a lack of official statistics or evidence. As already mentioned, there are many immigrants from European countries but there are also immigrants entering London from many other countries (non-european). This depends on various reasons, as some may enter a specific country in order to escape from danger in their existing place or to claim asylum. So how do we know if immigration good or bad for the UK? I have conducted an ananymous interview and will use it to critically reflect on the journal article ‘Immigration and Social Cohesion in the UK’. The article mainly focuses on the negative aspects of migration in regards of population dimension. In this essay I will mention a few benefits that have been brought into London through immigration. I will make arguments in regards of economical and social benefits to the area. I’ll be arguing against the journal article and will announce positive aspects and my own view of migration. I will use the answers given by my interviewee and also use some external secondary data.
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What is immigration? People who move from one nation to the other without being citizens to that specific national state are called immigrants. This is the movement of immigration (ImmigrationAssist, Undated). Immigration is an arguable topic in London as there are both, positive and negative aspects to it. I think that there are more positive aspects to immigration in London rather than negative aspects. London has become a popular place of immigration. People started migrating to London after the second world war (Migration Information, 2009). Immigrants are viewed as people who take over on jobs and houses and leave nothing for the existing citizens (Interview, Line). Criticisms of immigration to consider is that social solidarity gets weaker and secondly that immigrants do not adopt the culture and values shared in Britain, but rather express their own values within London. Immigration is viewed as a cultural eraser. Moreover the UK has a policy framework which prevents racial discrimination and therefore allows minorities to be visible within the country. Immigration levels have been constant from 1990 onwards (The Guardian, 2001). However, today London is receiving an unimaginable rate of immigrants.
Recently, there have been great arguments if there should be a limit introduced to immigration in London. Before attempting to give your own opinion it is important to consider both; negative and positive aspects of the topic. To announce it more accurately I think that it is difficult to maintain both sides at an equal level or to make a fixed statement for or against the matter. We, as the public have opinions about the limitation on immigration so do politicians. Let us consider some if these views. One of the main view is that the country is getting over populated. One of those over populated places in Britain is London. At present times there is a population number of 65 million people within London, however predicitions claim that within 70 years the population number will rise up to 108 million people (BBC, 2011). This means that immigrants will need houses to live in. The government is therefore building as many houses as possible. This means that the government is spending alot of money on resources. We’ll end up having less countrysides but a higher level of pollution as houses increase. If there was a limit set to immigration, the government wouldn’t need to spend money on building houses (Policy Network, 2013).
Not everyone has the same view about immigration, every individual has a different thought about it. Some of us certainly believe that it is better if we closed our borders in order to decrease the level of immigration (Gov.uk, 2013). But what do we gain from limiting the number of immigrants entering the country? The common perspective of immigration is that immigrants enter the country in order to obtain social benefits, which my interviewee also thought of (Interview, Line). However, immigrants do not possess the knowledge of the native language that is being used in the country, as they come from a different culture with different religions and different languages. These differences can lead to serious problems, such as violence. Dishonest immigrants enter the country in order to sell drugs or to carry out illegal activities. This is not a subject to be concerned about in London as much as it is in the United States.
On the other side, people view immigration as something positive, as I do. Immigration allows the society to be more diverse in terms of culture and religion. It is important to know the differences between various cultures, as it builds knowledge and may erase the issue of racism. Some believe that jobs are the country’s private property, whereas others claim that immigration is a key to spread a better economy to less developed countries. Immigration can therefore be announced as a tool that helps to overcome world property. Immigrants are known to be the most hard working and intelligent workers within the country. It’s an advantage to them as immigration allows to express talents and skills to another country (Independent, 2009).
Previous census results show that London has completely changed. The results clearly show that the number of immigrants entering Britain has gone up by 3 million. However, politicians claimed that this was not an issue to worry about. Moreover the 2011 census shows that London is now a place of multiculturalism; which means that the amount white population has decreased to a very low level (ons.gov.uk, interactive, 2011). This has also been mentioned in the dailymail, “It is believed to be the first time that British whites have become a minority in any region of the UK” (Dailymail, 2012). This certainly means that the country has a very low percentage of white population, however the population size seems to increase as the years go by. This is an outcome due to immigration. However, it is important to take into account that immigrantion is a not a bad thing itself. Immigration introduces many advantages to London, which can be gathered from the talents and ideas that have been brought into the country through immigration.
It was stated that English is a language that was made up of many foreign languages in Britain decades ago. Through immigration we see an increase in population and culture which has a positive impact on the society. Economically, the increase in population expresses the filled job positions within London, which allows an increase in tax input and therefore benefits institutions such as schools. However, a House of Lords report stated that immigration does not benefit London at all; “Minister Liam Byrne says migration has added Â£6bn to the economy…” (BBC article, 2008). It does lead to a greater economy which is shared with a greater society which leaves us with nothing. My interviewee, stated that it is not fair on the existing population, as they work very hard to achieve. I certainly go against her saying as people don’t move out of one country to another just for the fun of it but for various reasons. The reasons could be the desire for a better living, such as good educational and job opportunities. It’s not easy to adopt a new athmosphere, and to seperate from family members and friends.
Just like any other place, London expresses that it contains racism to some extent. Even though we think that legal immigrants are treated fairly, there are still people who discriminate others as they possess different values and norms. The BBC news magazine announces, “for the most part legal immigrants are treated fairly but there are still racists out there, just cause someone is speaking a different language they start discriminating them…” (BBC ‘Does Britain’s sense of fair play attract immigrants?’, 2010). Illegal immigrants, however are treated not as fair as legal immigrants. Yet they are illegal residents, but they are here for certain reasons, such as the ideology of having a better life. This shows that “London is a place of opportunity and freedom” (BBC ‘Does Britain’s sense of fair play attract immigrants?’, 2010). The article also mentions that when people see someone from a different ethnic group, they tend to assume that they are illegal immigrants, when in reality they could be legal UK citizens.
The view is that London has economically benefited from immigration as the ‘new workers’ (immigrants) agree to take over on low paid jobs, which the existing population may not desire to opt for. Another reason is that the new workers allow the defeat in skill shortages within London. A recent home office research (Glover et al, 2001) states that there has been very little attention in force towards migration within the United Kingdom, “Immigration has been a market driven response to supply and demand, rather than policy-driven.”
There’s no solid solution for the increase of immigration in London, but there are some ways that could be used in order to reduce the amount of immigration. We already have security barriers at all British borders, although they are not strong enough. As I have already mentioned a method is to make those barriers stronger to prevent the high income of immigrants, this means that borders should be checked more frequently and strictly. There are actions taken at the border crossing, “The final set of recent immigration policy changes are designed to reinforce security at the border…” (Focus Migration, undated). The British police should be more aware of illegal entrance into the United Kingdom, and should therefore check immigrants if they have the correct documents to enter the country. The police should also be able to arrest those who enable immigrants to cross countries illegally. My interviewee stated that the government should take some action to decrease the amount of immigration, by providing a lower amount of benefits.
To conclude, it seems satisfactory to state that there are social and economic benefits and disadvantages to the UK through immigration, as migrant workers who recently entered London have brought such changes. The pressure on public services has been held responsible on immigration, moreover it is the government that was unable to set additional income into such services while obtaining the advantages of economic growth and greater tax profits. It is very difficult to follow an ‘open-door policy’ (the scheme of allowing equal business opportunities to all countries) without supplying any help to the community to deal with a greater population level. Immigration can be beneficial if the rate of immigration is maintained to a certain level and if the government fulfills the needs of the population. UK Borders should only be opened up to those who are hard working and who are in real danger. It is for certain that the immigrant population within London will change our lives by creating more diverse alterations to the country.
Word Count: 1,854
Interview transcription: Carried out on 12th April 2013
Q: Hi, how are you?
1. Alicia: Hiiii (big smile on face), not too bad actually, it’s just the weather that’s irritating.
Q: Let me just quickly explain what this is about, I will interview you and see what your opinion about immigration is. I’m doing this for an academic purpose and will use this interview for a critical reflection on an artical. I will not collect any personal details from you, as this interview remains anonymous. Is that okai with you?
2. Alicia: Yep, deffoo.
Q: Do you mind if I take a maximum of 15 minutes of your life?
3. Alicia: Haha, that’s not a problem. I don’t mind helping people you know.
Q: What’s your favourite town within London?
4. Alicia: Wembley.
Q: If you were to come from Wembley today, why would you get here, all the way from Wembley to Stratford?
5. Alicia: I like shopping, and Westfields is wow, it has a variety of shops. I don’t mind travelling, 6. it’s way better than sitting at home, hehe.
Q: How would you get here?
7. Alicia: I took the train. I drive but don’t own a car yet. I’m still looking for a part time job, coz I 8. don’t want my parents to get me a car. If it’s something for me then it should be from my 9. own money.
Q: Okai that’s a sweet idea. Would you be able to list any difference between Wembley and Stratford?
10. Alicia: Erm, no.
Q: Why not?
11. Alicia: Both places are pretty much multicultural. Erm, you can see people from everywhere, 12. erm you know like, ehhm, you see asians, whites and blacks, sorry I’m not trying to be racist 13. here, just answering the question.
Q: Interesting, do you prefer this country to remain multicultural?
14. Alicia: Yehh, curse I do. It’s cool how we connect with people from different backgrounds. 15. Not only Wembley and Stratford but all over London. I would say that London has people 16. from all over the world.
Q: What do you think, could be the reason for multiculturalism in London?
17. Alicia: I’m actually not sure you know. Erm (pause), I’m really not sure, maybe coz there are 18. better welfare services here..I think.
Q: Would you say that immigration has an impact on multiculturalism?
19. Alicia: Oh yh, actually that’s something to think about. Personally, I’m from Germany. I was 20. born there and spent 13years there. Originally I’m of a Pakistani background. I think there is 21. something about the government that makes immigration easier, coz in Germany you rarely 22. meet any people from different places. Immigration must be the reason, there must be 23. many people like me who migrated from other places to the UK.
Q: What do you think about immigration?
23. Alicia: Erm, it actually doesn’t matter of where you’re from, but it’s good to do it legally 24. rather than illegally…hehe (quiet laughter).
Q: Why do you say that?
25. Alicia: Well, illegal residents will of course call their children or relatives over and will opt for 26. benefits and free food and all that. It’s so not fair on us, coz we might end up being in a 27. position of hardship.(Quite tensed, forehead creased)
Q: What do you mean by hardship, do you mind expanding?
28. Alicia: It’s just you know, there is always a time where we might end up not getting 29. jobs…..erm, basically we’ll be jobless. We grow up in this country, and do everything legally, 30. and you know work hard to get into a decent job. That can’t be taken away from us by illegal 31. immigrants. It’s seriously not fair on the ones who work their bottoms off. (Smile faded, head still creased…pretty much into the questionnaire)
Q: But don’t you think that people may settle here due to their personal reasons?
32. Alicia: Well yeah, erm I know some people who came over coz they have some war or some 33. sort of problem going on in their place.
Q: Don’t you think that they work really hard too, to remain in a safe place?
34. Alicia: Hmm… (seems tensed)
Q: Do you think that immigration and population growth go together?
35. Alicia: I think so, the more migrates we have the higher the population will be.
Q: Is that something bad or good?
36. Alicia: I’d say bad, coz we’ll run out of houses to live in haha, I’m kidding, but as I said we’ll 37. experience hardship.
Q: So don’t you think that there are any good aspects to immigration?
38. Alicia: There are, as I said we connect to people who are of a different background. I would 39. say…(little pause), say that immigration makes us learn different cultures. Erm, it’s kinda like 40. getting to know different values and life styles, we’re basically learning…erm increasing our 41. knowledge. There could also be an opportunity to learn different languages.
Q: So you’re saying it allows cultural exchange?
42. Alicia: Er yeah, hehe.
Q: Is that the only positive aspect or do you have more to add?
43. Alicia: I would say that London is more welcoming than Germany. Erm immigration shows that the country is treating people fairly, whatever their background. (Big smile)
Q: That’s a really nice thought.
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