[Marxism] RE: Immigration Control

Calvin Broadbent calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 18 04:19:07 MST 2004


Hi,
Having watched a debate on Newsnight in the UK last night on the 'tough' new 
immigration policies being pursued by the British Govt. in the face of 
massive tabloid scare-mongering about the 'flood' of immigrants about to hit 
Britain, I felt I should post to the list. What marxist or socialist 
arguments are best to use in opposing these immigration controls? It seems 
that the nominal 'left' in Britain, particularly New Labour, are saying that 
to stop the far-right capitalising on issues such as immigration (which has 
been made into a serious public issue largely by the tabloids I think), more 
concerened socialistic governments ought to crack down on immigration. This, 
as has been pointed out, only serves to legitimise the rhetoric and the 
practice of fascists, whther thugs or politicians.
At the same time that this anti-immigrant platform has been adopted, it 
seems that the govt. is letting workers in from different countries to 
supply labour where there seems to be a shortage (e.g. in nursing), where 
the immigrants are paid low wages, not allowed any rights, and duly shipped 
back to their country of origin after working a year or two.
Other than basic moral arguments and championing the right of people to live 
and work where they wish, I have not seen any serious marxist arguments for 
the relaxing of immigration controls. Of course we must point out the fact 
that the destruction of other countires economies is a direct consequence of 
the economic and military policies of our own government in the UK (and the 
ability of capital, if not labourm, to travel where it pleases in search of 
another fast buck). Equally, it is possible to point out the hugely 
exaggerated significance of the numbers of immigrants coming into the UK (I 
read on defend-asylum.org that the UK accepts 0.05% of the world's refugees, 
but the fugure may be only slightly higher from other statistics I have 
looked at like the 2001 Institute of Race Relations ones).
The problem is that I am not sure if these arguments really challenge the 
apparently common sense arguments that a) the unemployed population will 
increase thus causing problems for Unions and possibly lowering wages as 
competiition for jobs increases, b) the number of people claiming benefits 
will rise thus pitting groups of unemployed people in direct competition for 
allocation of scarce resources, c) immigration can contribute to the housing 
shortage. Of course, it is clear from statistics that immigrants tend to get 
paid less benefits than anyone else and are more likely to be unemployed 
than any other group. Clearly, the notion that jobs are being taken, etc. by 
immigrants can be show to be total nonsense, and unemployment the direct 
result of the current capitalist system. I think it can also be show that 
the creation of a police state to prevent immigration and monitor immigrants 
can be shown to be politically and economically detrimental to working and 
unemployed people.
Still, I feel that the only people really providing a thoughgoing critique 
of immigration controls are full-blown free-marketeers of the Thatcherite 
ilk.
What arguments do people on the lsit think that anti racist organisations 
should be using to combat the demonisation and vilification of immigrants, 
in economic terms if possible?
all the best

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