There is a lot of misconceptions around the concept of immigration, a term negatively connoted even though badly defined. This can only generate biased and misinformed political debates.
Nobody agrees on a clear definition of immigrant. Like the term entrepreneur that can be applied to a diversity of people whom start their own businesses, the term immigrant hides multiple types of profiles that have nothing in common but the fact that ‘immigrants’ are people who come to live in a foreign place to where they were born.
The student staying for a year is an immigrant as much is the Polish worker coming here to settle forever, the french banker enjoying a less taxed salary for the same job he/she would do from Paris or the Nigerian entrepreneur setting up his trade business in the UK. Just read my interviews with these migrants. From which immigrant is the UK economy benefiting most? And most importantly: what is a foreigner’s country? If you were born in England (so you have the British nationality) but brought up all your life in Vietnam, how different are you from a Vietnamese ‘immigrant’ going to the UK? What makes you deserve more from the British State than our vietnamese fellow? Isn’t England as foreign to you as the other guy? Isn’t more courageous and showing ambition to move to the UK and find a work there?
We are all migrants of some sorts. Either we move from one country to another, or to a city to another. Immigration can’t be reduced as the process of settling in a place you don’t speak the language or don’t have the passport of, and just take on its benefits and jobs. There is a way you pay back to the community; if it not by taxes one pay, it is also by buying from the local shop and bringing in that new place rare skills and another culture. And migrating is a growing trend.
Actually, one could be rationally more worried about international students coming temporarily to a country or a highly skilled worker coming to work in the UK. They can be direct competition on the job market, taking good high-level position and going back without trying to integrate the new country/society instead of someone coming here illegally, or legally but fighting to find a decent job and without any margin to choose where to work and live, really. That’s a debate worth considering. Read more on the debate about International Students in the UK, and their restricted rights to work.
It is expensive to be poor. Especially in London. The one benefitting from the system and not paying its taxes are sometimes the ones that might be right at its core (Vodafone?) and low skilled migrant workers providing cheap workforce to completely legal businesses but often dodgy, unethical employers. Remember, the Royal Windsor Family is a product of german immigration; they have done well and they have cared about the UK like no one before. Perhaps we should change the focus of the debate.