Saturday, 10 October 2015

Awful arguments #1 - the' burden of immigration' Myth

How many times have you heard phrases claiming that ‘immigrants are all claiming benefits’ that we can’t support them, or the ridiculously ignorant ‘they are all stealing our jobs’? This article examines the legitimacy of the claim that migrants are a burden on the economy.

let’s look at this in context of the current refugee situation. According to figures from The UN refugee agency, there were 19.5 million refugees worldwide by the end of 2014. Syria has become the world’s top source country of refuges, with almost one in four of them coming from Syria, 95 per cent of whom are located in the surrounding countries. Despite the vast number of refugees being supported by countries such as Jordan, the UK has only agreed to take 20,000 refugees by the end of 2020. In addition to this, Germany have agreed to take more refugees in 2015 than the entire of the European Union did in 2014. All of this has come amid excuses from politicians that accepting immigrants will somehow ‘harm our infrastructure’ and the frankly childish excuse of ‘accepting refugees will make them all want to come here’. Such arguments are grounded in little to no evidence whatsoever, and the sooner we can see the end of them, the better.


One of the main objections to immigration is that accepting migrants will be bad for the economy. Despite this, a poll of leading economists could not a single one who rejected the idea that immigration is a huge economic benefit. So why to people keep perpetuating this myth?

Well, when people reject to immigration on economic terms they are using something called the lump of labour fallacy. This is the idea that no person, however hard they work, can get a job without either taking one from someone else, or radically driving down wages due to the increased labour force. However, from a business point of view immigration should be a largely good thing. Like everybody, immigrants have a distinct need and desire to buy food and commodities. With more commodities being purchased, more jobs can then be created, increasing the size of the economy. By the ‘immigrants are staling our jobs’ logic, so should every young person leaving school, and entering the job market.

The Organisation for economic cooperation and development works to provide data about economies, internationally regarded as developed. In their report about migration they found that immigrant workers tend to make a net contribution to the countries they migrate to. This is due to the fact that they tend to be both younger and more economically active, than the wider population in their new county. These immigrants are desperately needed, without an inflow of economically active migrants, an increasing number of retiring people are going to have to rely on an ever shrinking workforce to sustain their standard of living.

Other claims such as ‘immigrants are all on benefits’, have their own problems. The Study Fiscal impacts of immigration to the UK, published in the economic Journal, found that 60% of migrants from western and southern Europe have graduated university, and that 25% of arrivals have completed a degree, compared with 24% of the entire UK workforce. furthermore, the study also found that between the years of 2000 and 2011 immigration made a net contribution of 20bn to public finances.

While I am no fan of capitalist economics and would like to see it replaced, it is likely that open borders would decrease levels of global inequality by allowing immigrants to travel and back and forth from their native countries allowing them to share knowledge and capital. While we do of course have the environmental issue to think about, with regard to immigration fuelling the economy, immigration does not add to the number of people on the planet, and thus is not necessarily as environmentally destructive as other forms of growth.

In light of this, it can be argued that we are accepting immigrants with lots of money, who spend not a Jot of it in the UK, and neglecting those immigrants who will be able to work hard and contribute to the economy.

food and shelter

As previously explained not only increased spending power among immigrants should mean the creation of new jobs in things such as food manufacturing, and house building. Also, there are numerous other policies that can be implemented to sustain immigrants.
To put this into perspective, there are more than 11 million empty properties across Europe, enough to house the entire population of the continent twice over. Ironically, one of the main groups espousing the idea that immigrant are responsible for the housing crisis are the Tory party, a party who, have vandalised our social housing, and throughout their time in office have overseen the lowest levels of new house building since the 1920s.  To see a party that has does nothing but increase the amount of people on food banks to nearly 1 million, and spectacularly fail in cutting the deficit, moaning that immigration is the source of our problems, is so utterly  hypocritical its almost funny. Don't believe tory lies, and scapegoats about immigrants,  such lies only distract us from the real problems.

In addition to our abysmal housing crisis, 3.9 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food and drink industry every year, with about 10% of this fit for consumption, enough food for 800 million meals. By allowing anti-food waste campaigns and charities, such as fare share and food not bombs, who do excellent work saving food destined for waste and sending it to communities in need, to help migrants, we can massively benefit both ourselves and the migrants who depend on our help.

No human being need go without in our rich era, here's to bread and wellbeing for all!


I would like to conclude by pointing out that immigration is not only a necessity for many people, but a fact of life. People have always wanted to move from one place to the others. Just because this may seem different to a lot of people it could be a huge opportunity, in the fight for global equality.

The next time someone l tries to argue that 'immigration is a burden', feel free to point out some of these points to them. Such claims serve only to maintain apathy in our society, and preserve authoritarian institutions.

1 comment:

  1. This is some good information. I argue some of these points with people but the "this is 'merica" attitude shines through. America was formed because people everywhere immigrated somewhere else to achieve their "dream" life. I was surprised to learn how many empty properties there are across Europe! We are a very wasteful, greedy race. I am glad you brought up all the wasted food and have solid numbers to back the point.