Immigration: it’s a question of recruiting citizens, not ‘universal’ privilege

17th April, 2011 6:32 pm

ImmigrationBy Ian Silvera / @ianjsilvera

As you travel throughout the midlands – Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry and so on – your eye will be immediately drawn to an bewildering, yet beautiful, display of markets, food and fashion. The cultural institutions I refer to here do not have their roots in the white Anglo-Saxon protestant genealogy. These are cultural exports from lands as far as China and, more often than not, hail from commonwealth countries. I do not, as some may suggest, gaze on such cultural diversity – a phrase I prefer to use instead of the clichéd, thus redundant, ‘multiculturalism’ – disapprovingly. In fact, I embrace this melting pot of vibrant colours, exotic foods, imaginative dress wears and those whom have travelled far to spread such an enriching experience – immigrants.

For all that, I recall an intriguing conversation with a first generation immigrant from Iran. When discussing immigration, the Iranian man exclaimed, with much conviction, that “You’re much too soft”, his face stern and unwavering. Mildly bemused at such a conservative stance from a first generation immigrant, I pondered, “Surely he isn’t referring to what I think he is?”. I plucked up the courage and queried “What do you mean, ‘you’re much too soft?'”. The Iranian man looked frustrated, his brow now crumpled “On immigration and law. You let too many people in and let them do what they want”. After meditating over the man’s contentions, I could see more clearly where he was coming from and why some first generation – and I suppose second generation – immigrants hold a conservative stance on immigration.

Their reasoning, simply, is that they have come over to Britain and, for the most part, embraced British customs. However, they feel disfranchised by even more immigrants coming over and taking their prospective opportunities, especially those immigrants of a parasitic nature – who just take from the host- Britain – and don’t give back. Of course, such a stance reeks of hypocrisy. If there was not a liberal immigration system in place in Britain then they would not be here in the first place.

On the other hand, the Iranian man’s argument should not be thrown to the fire, at least not until I have drawn from it some soundness. The soundness I refer to here is an argument for state sovereignty. More specifically, that our state has greater obligations to its citizens – those whom, in Rousseau’s mind, make up a hypothetical contract with the state – than citizens of a foreign land. The Kantian federalism espoused by the ‘open door’ immigration policy advocate – and physically represented by the E.U. – fails to acknowledge one crucial fact. Citizens – who have already contributed to our civil society through tax, culture, art, law and so the list goes on – should have greater rights, because of his contribution, against an prospective immigrant from a foreign land and that the first generation immigrant who has earned his citizenship, thus these greater rights.

Explained further, those who argue in favour of an ‘open door’ immigration policy or a ‘free movement of peoples’ – pick your euphemism accordingly – overlook the poignant fact that if we follow their policy to the letter, we are giving our prized citizenship away to anyone and, presumably, a mass number of immigrants, thus saturating the positives of British citizenship.

As such, having an ‘open door’ immigration policy undermines both the sovereignty and rights of the British. Maybe the ‘open doorist’ assigns the same obligations found in Britain – universal health care and so on – to all the peoples of the world, even though these non-British citizens have not contributed to our civil society to create these great social institutions. This is the logical conclusion that the ‘open door’ immigration policy advocate, despite his sincerity and good intentions, must accept. Which, hopefully, dear reader, you will consider unstable, impractical and downright absurd. What I propose is much more sensible than the ‘open doorist’. That is to adopt a ‘points system’, as it is commonly called. However, I feel the less emotive phrase ‘recruitment policy’ covers my view better.

In recent years the recruitment policy has been shunned by British liberals. Their argument usually follows the fallacious line: Australia has a recruitment policy and Australia has, as a state, xenophobic undertones. Since Australia has a recruitment policy and is considered (by some) to be xenophobic, then any state that adopts a recruitment policy must be xenophobic as well. Here, you may file a, rightfully, just complaint – that I have just presented an exaggerated version of the opposition against a recruitment policy. Nevertheless, I have witnessed such nonsense, so I feel obliged to share it with you, the reader.

Of course, our recruitment policy should not be rigid – only allowing plumbers and carpenters, for instance – the policy should reflect civil society. It should be in flux. For instance, it may be the case that the plumbing market becomes saturated; consequently we should not allow any more plumbers into Britain. Here, the reader is encourages to replace ‘plumber’ with whatever non-skilled, skilled or professional livelihood he can conceive of. Moreover, this recruitment system should not limit itself to the European Economic Area, but should cast its net of opportunity as far as possible. Therefore, my proposed recruitment policy differs from our current rigid and Eurocentric immigration policy.

Finally, some detractors may object that we have no legitimacy to decide who does and who does not enter our country and become a citizen. But, is it not the case that the British citizen is the one who has created such a desirable country? Undeniably, even the ‘open doorist’ must answer ‘Yes’. Then, additionally, most sane people would agree that whoever makes something and is in control of that object, via representative democracy in our case, should decide who uses and enters that object.

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