Immigration is an issue that hovers beneath the surface of debates on everything from national identity to the evils of sex trafficking, but there seems to be a taboo against discussing it in its own terms. When campaigners do argue that we can’t cope with the rate of immigration, liberal critics respond by insisting that the statistics are dodgy, and that such a numbers game is actually thinly veiled racism. But it is rare for anyone to make a positive case for immigration as something that we should embrace rather than something we simply have to accept as inevitable, or as a burdensome duty to the downtrodden of the world.
The free market case for immigration points to the futility of attempts by governments to estimate the number of new workers the economy will require. Human rights campaigners meanwhile highlight the suffering of immigrants held in detention centres, as well as irregular migrants struggling to make a living without the protection of the law and the same fundamental rights as the rest of the population. The most positive thing anyone has to say about immigration is that it brings the benefits of cultural diversity, but many others see this too as a threat.
What would a debate look like in which the case for immigration was made positively rather than defensively?
Brussels correspondent, The Times; co-author, No Means No
visiting senior fellow, LSE’s European Institute; author, Immigrants: your country needs them and European Spring: Why Our Economies and Politics are in a Mess – and How to Put Them Right
campaign co-ordinator, Strangers into Citizens
|Dr James Gledhill|
fellow in political theory, LSE; co-convenor, IoI Postgraduate Forum
|Dr James Gledhill fellow in political theory, LSE; co-convenor, IoI Postgraduate Forum|
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