Blog

Don Flynn Nov 24, 2014 Comments: 1
The thinktank British Future created a stir last week with the publication of its new book, How to talk about immigration.
It is clear that, given the current febrile state of the public mood, a lot of damage can be done by talking about immigration in ways that are insensitive to many people’s anxieties. Times are exceptionally hard for so many people - wage earners in particular are feeling the squeeze of an economy which has blocked off any rise in their living standards for most of a decade. Commonsense, that age-old foe of critical thinking, tells citizens that immigration must have something to do with this unhappy state of affairs. If there is good evidence which shows that this is not the case then we have to find the best way to get this across to the people who would benefit from knowing the true facts.
Awale Olad Nov 21, 2014
Lots happened this week in the dizzying world of immigration and British and American politics. Here’s my brief round-up of the goings-on this week.
UKIP’s 271st target seat becomes second Tory casualty Is Nigel Farage and his people’s army, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), about to storm 10 Downing Street? A highly unlikely scenario but the bruising win in Rochester and Strood that Tory defector Mark Reckless delivered on David Cameron yesterday is piling unimaginable pressure on the Prime Minister with threats of more defections haunting him.
Momtaz Rahman Nov 17, 2014
Two Immigration Act Workshops organised by MRN and ILPA with a large number of migrant community groups raised widespread concerns about local service providers in our communities being at the heart of immigration enforcement. MRN has teamed up with RAMFEL to hold a public meeting to discuss how we can come together to address the discrimination and community tensions which loom ahead.
Last Wednesday MRN launched the Migrant Manifesto for the Our Vote Campaign at the inspiring Black Chronicles exhibition at Rivington Place. Of the six calls in the Migrant Manifesto, Call 5 is to end the hostile environment created by immigration enforcement. The Immigration Act is a key piece of recent legislation which bring a new layer to the usual centrally Home Office pushed immigration enforcement (in the form of raids or Go Home Vans) to a disturbing decentralised immigration enforcement programme which places local service providers in our communities at the heart of immigration enforcement.  
Ruth Grove-White Nov 17, 2014
This Thursday’s by-election in Rochester and Strood seems set to deliver a second UKIP MP into Westminster. In the build-up we have once again seen political scaremongering about immigration in the name of ‘addressing public concerns’. Surely there is another way forward...
In fact, analysis by British Future trailed in the Guardian this weekend reconfirms that public views on immigration are more reasonable and less polarized than we would think from listening to our political leaders. Chiming with previous research in this area, 25% of the public is identified as cosmopolitans who are inherently comfortable with immigration as it stands and a further 50% as the ‘anxious middle’ who are not anti-migrant per se, but primarily disillusioned with political management of immigration and concerned about its local impacts.
Don Flynn Nov 10, 2014 Comments: 2
We heard last week that recent migrants have contributed £20 billion to UK revenues. But the real gains from migration will come when newcomers can take their place in the fight against inequality and xenophobia.
Last week’s report from academics at University College London on the fiscal impacts of migration to the UK is just the latest in a whole sequence which has made the case that, far from being a charge on the taxpayer, the migration that developed over the course of the 2000s, has brought in a cohort of net contributors.
Ruth Grove-White Nov 7, 2014 Comments: 2
On Wednesday 12 November, we will be launching the new Our Vote 2015 campaign, which will bring groups together to call for a fair approach to immigration in the next general election. Ahead of that, here is the final Migrant Manifesto instalment, which calls for international students coming here to be treated fairly and with dignity.
In recent years, successive Governments have undermined the rights of international students studying in the UK. With education one of the UK’s most important import sectors, this group of foreign nationals is estimated to be worth £8 billion to the UK economy each year. However, as reforms affecting international students have taken effect, the number of overseas higher education entrants has declined.   A number of policy changes have made it more difficult for both applicants and academic sponsors to navigate the system. Universities and colleges are now under greater pressure to scrutinise international students in the UK, including checking immigration documents and reporting their whereabouts to the Home Office. This has resulted in some students feeling intimidated by immigration checks and singled out for different treatment than their peers.  
Ruth Grove-White Nov 3, 2014
This week, debate about the role of migrant workers - particularly from the European Union - continues. The fifth instalment of our upcoming Migrant Manifesto calls for widespread measures to end the exploitation of migrant workers in the UK.
People coming to the UK from overseas are too often at risk of being abused by employers, gangmasters and employment agencies, who may seek to take advantage of their skills, energy and willingness to work. Exploitation of foreign workers commonly takes place in low-paid and often casual work, within a range of sectors including construction, social care, cleaning and hospitality. Workers in these sectors are often subject to zero hours contracts and poor treatment including underpayment of wages, hazardous working conditions and long hours. Some people, and in particular some migrant workers, experience criminal levels of exploitation including bonded labour and slave-like conditions at work.
Don Flynn Nov 3, 2014 Comments: 7
The Government’s decision to back down from rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean is driven by the flawed notion that the size and scale of the traffic is dictated by people smugglers. They are wrong. It is a classic refugee crisis that is forcing tens of thousands to flee for their lives.
Public debate on the crisis in the Mediterranean has this week presented a dismaying and misleading image of the people who are making desperate efforts to get to the safety of Europe. This seems to be deeply embedded in the viewpoints of government ministers who last week announced they would be abandoning future rescue efforts to save those in trouble on Europe's seas.
Ruth Grove-White Oct 27, 2014
This week, the fourth instalment of our upcoming Migrant Manifesto focuses on the need to make urgent reforms within the immigration system, to make the system fairer for all who seek to use it.
We want the UK to be a country that treats people coming here from overseas fairly. People seeking to enter or remain here depend upon our immigration system being adequately funded, able to make reliable decisions, and regulated by systems ensuring accountability and oversight.
Don Flynn Oct 26, 2014
Emergency brakes and benefit caps were put on offer by party leaders this week. Both are intended to get across the message that immigration can be got back under control. But aren't there bigger truths that we should be trying to get across, like how the movement of people is all a part of the 'new normal' of everyday life in the twenty-first century?
Just as Clacton recedes into memory so Rochester looms up as the next thing to get excited about. It brings with it the dreadful thought that the entire run-up to the 2015 general election will be made up of a series by-elections provoked by Tory defections to the UKIP insurgents, ensuring a steady draft of oxygen to keep the embers of anti-Europeanism glowing fresh and bright for months to come. What will this mean for the public conversation on immigration policy? Funnily enough their historic victory in the Essex seaside town earlier in the month could open up some interesting tensions even within UKIP’s seemingly intransigent ranks. The victorious defector from the Conservatives, Douglas Carswell, seems to have been at pains to make the point that strident anti-immigration is not really his bag during his interview in the Guardian last week.
Don Flynn Oct 20, 2014 Comments: 1
David Cameron’s vow last week to have ‘one last go’ at changing EU migration rules have dominated discussion in recent days. Commission president Manuel Jose Barroso’s comments are welcome, but the positive case for free movement needs to be made by principled politicians as well as EU officials.
The crisis on the centre-right of UK politics, provoked by the rise of Nigel Farage’s UKIP, ratcheted up another notch last week. David Cameron pledged to have ‘one last go’ at limiting the right of citizens to free movement within the EU.   Mr Cameron made the promise during a visit to Kent, where local politics is gearing itself for a by-election in the Rochester and Strood constituency next month.  The contest was triggered by the defection of Tory MP Mark Reckless to UKIP at the beginning of October.
Ruth Grove-White Oct 20, 2014
The third instalment of our upcoming Migrant Manifesto touches on an issue making headlines this week. We are calling for the next government to resist the temptation to misrepresent EU migration, and instead to champion policy solutions that give these migrants a fair deal in the UK.
There are few areas of immigration policy in the UK where the position of a group of migrants has been so misrepresented as that of those who come from other countries of the European Union. EU nationals are commonly accused of abusing the right to free movement in order to gain access to benefits and services in the UK. They are portrayed as unfairly undercutting the wages and working conditions of resident workers. They are supposed to have no interest in ‘integrating’ themselves into British culture by learning the language and mixing in local communities.
Don Flynn Oct 13, 2014
The right wing challenge to the established political parties appeared to gain momentum last week from the results in both the Clacton and Heywood and Middleton by-elections. But the picture beyond the poll results shows that discontent is being driven by factors other than immigration. Shifting to a harder line on controlling the borders is not the response that is needed at this moment in time.
The big news of last week was of course UKIP’s performance in the Clacton and Heywood and Middleton.  Victory in one and a close second in the other has increased the sense that the party best known for its anti-Europe and immigration stances is a serious force which could hold the balance of power in Parliament after the general election due in May 2015.
Ruth Grove-White Oct 13, 2014 Comments: 7
Follow our weekly blog series to read preview extracts from a new Migrant Manifesto, highlighting six key calls for change after the next election. This week - how the rules need to better protect the rights and interests of families across borders...
The decision by the Government to make radical changes to the family migration rules in July 2012 has been one of the most widely reported injustices in the way immigration policy has developed in recent years. The current family rules have caused the widespread separation of genuine families, and have inflicted unnecessary hardship on people who should be establishing their lives together in the UK in security and stability.
Ruth Grove-White Oct 6, 2014 Comments: 7
Follow a new weekly blog series to read preview extracts from a new Migrant Manifesto, highlighting six key calls for change after the next election.
In November MRN will be launching a migrant manifesto as part of the upcoming 2015 pre-election campaign, Our Vote 2015. The manifesto pulls together the views from many civil society organisations to call for a fair and equal immigration system, and asks politicians to begin by making changes in six key areas.   You can read extracts from the manifesto over the coming weeks, which highlight the key calls for change.   Manifesto Call 1: End the ‘hostile environment’ created by local immigration enforcement