Sunday, 8 June 2008

The World of Immigration

Immigration is a hugely contentious, controversial and complex issue. All too often attempts to simplify the issue create problems of misunderstanding and misconception within and across communities.

Earlier this week, Daniel Kawcynski, the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury & Atcham, sparked a minor row when criticising the BBC for using the immigration of Poles into Britain as a metaphor for mass immigration. Quite rightly, Kawcynski argued that only a very small proportion of immigrants are from Poland.

Indeed, there's plenty of evidence that as the economy slides into recession, the Poles are heading home either for greener pastures or having made their money. In my part of London, Newham, the Poles are being replaced by the Romanians and there is even a specialist Romanian food shop now open on the Barking Road in East Ham.

The figures, confusing as they are, suggest the primary source of immigration to the UK is from the Indian Subcontinent and in particular Bangladesh and Pakistan. Now, these countries have historical ties to Britain and it may be many of the new arrivals are joining family members already here but I don't know.

As with much else around the thorny issue of immigration, the truth isn't easy to find while misconception and prejudice cloud the issue and restrict valid debate.

No comments: