Richard North, 20/06/2014  

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To an international migrant seeking a new life – for what ever reason – the choice of the country as final destination depends on a number of factors. These include such fixed elements as distance and language, but also many variables, such as ease of entry, the benefits systems, access to the health care system and so on. Collectively, these are known as "pull" factors.

As we have written previously, an effective immigration policy requires management of both "push" factors – those which trigger the migration in the first place – and then of the totality of the variable "pull" factors. Simply focusing on a limited number of those "pull" factors does not constitute an effective policy.

However, we now have to confront one of the more disturbing aspects of UK immigration policy. Even where there is a declared intent to limit the flow of migrants into this country, using the limited array controls we have available to influence the "pull" factors, the actual implementation is dismally poor.

This comes over from two articles in the legacy media today, one in The Times and the other in the Daily Mail, acquainting us with the details of the report John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

What Vine is telling us is a series of things that we already know, such as the fact that migrants are "exploiting a back-door route into Britain by gaining citizenship of other EU states".

This actually distorts the figures on EU and third country migration, as a goodly proportion of those who come to us via the EU were not actually born in any EU member state. Potential migrants find it easier to gain citizenship in Italy and Germany than in the UK. But once they hold a passport from an EU member state, they are able to move to Britain to work and access public services.

Another vexed issue is sham marriages, where a would-be immigrant marries a citizen with an EU member state passport living in Britain, and thereby acquires residency rights. This, apparently, is a growing problem, yet few of those caught are prosecuted unless there is evidence of organised crime.

Says The Times, the chief inspector's report "is the latest to highlight deficiencies in the operation of the immigration system and is a further blow to the Home Office in a week in which it has been forced to apologise to the public for the chaos surrounding passport applications".

What the paper doesn't do, though, is put the report in its broader context. If Britain can't even enforce the measures available to it, then it will inevitably be seen as a "soft touch". And as the message gets round to migrant groups, that acts as a powerful "pull" factor that brings thousands to our shores. All we are doing, it seems, is strengthening that "pull".

But Vine's report also re-affirms the point we continually make: all the laws in the world, backed by any number of tough-sounding policies, come to naught unless you have effective enforcement in place. Tough talk is politicians' rhetoric, but devising enforcement measures that work require skill, experience and knowledge.

The point here is that, on what the Commission is highlighting as World Refugee Day, would be migrants are often desperate and thereby highly motivated. They will be constantly looking for loopholes as ways of defeating the system. To counter this, a comprehensive and highly flexible response is needed.

The Commission itself, in its examples, reports on migrants from Syria, Mali, Uganda, and Somalia, with a press release telling us how: "The European Commission helps refugees". But what they will not admit to is that, in their responses, the EU is about as incompetence in dealing with "push" factors as it is on so many of the other policies it handles.

For us, though. we cannot walk away. As Compete Bastard writes, non-intervention also has its price – both at home and abroad. If we are to deal with the scourge of uncontrolled immigration, we are going to need a lot more than simplistic political slogans. We need a far better appreciation of the nature of the problems, of the control mechanisms available, and of our capabilities in implementing them.

In other words, immigration is a grown-up issue that requires a complex, grown-up response, employing numerous tools over a wide range of policy areas. And so far, we are not seeing anything approaching an effective response, or even credible attempts to take us in that direction.


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