The Day the Immigrants Left

Is immigration a problem? Ah well… it could be argued both sides. The political economy of migration is a tricky one. However my view is that migrants can represent a problem for low-skilled native citizens who can see their jobs ‘stolen’ by happy-with-low-wages migrants. But these migrants contribute to the economy of the host country. They buy clothes, they pay taxes, they send their children to school… They do inject money in the economy of the host country. High skilled native citizens tend to be more tolerant towards imigrants, because they have nothing to fear. They have the security of a job, they have skills and they have a ‘voice’.

This being said, a friend of mine gave me a CD the other day on which he had recorded a BBC show called “The Day the Immigrants Left”. It was basically the story of some low-skilled Brits who were coplaining that the only reason why they were unemployed was because “these Eastern Europeans steal our jobs”. The journalist convinced some English employees to let some Brits to work for a couple of days. What happened? Some of the unemployed Brits did not show up at the meeting point, others just gave up because the job it was too dull and difficult.

What is the lesson? Some of the migrants who work in West do those jobs that a native would not do because it is to dull, tideous and difficult…

What’s next? I don’t know. But I hope that  (free) movement of persons will trigger tolerance. Acceptance of those immigrants who do not have a choice in their home countries and they only want to work hard in order to afford a decent life. That’s all they ask… a DECENT life, not even a GOOD life.

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  • cristachitza  On May 15, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    This is a subject on we can talk on and on and on and … on, of course. Look at what happens in Spain. 25% are unemployers cause many of the migrants work on the black market so you can’t say they pay taxes. And most of them work to send money home so they don’t send their children in the schools from Spain. From what i heard, in Italy it was true. They needed the migrants to do the hard work. But now they changed, they start to work on their own cause they can’t afford to pay the migrants anymore.

  • Lukas  On May 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    How about additional perspective. Presuming country with regulated immigration on grounds of education, skills, capital and / or clear criminal records, it could be argued that such country can pick up ready made adults with certain working habits and attitude. Depending on the set up of immgration rules, the host country has only limited responsibility towards the immigrants concerning social security. On the other hand future workers who are being raised in host country as its citizens, tend to expect high social security guarantees even their econmic activity does not justify / cover such demands.
    My worry is not about the physical holdings of monetary capital within the host society. Also the level of positive effect on host economy is arguable due to some immigrants’ economic behaviour. Sedning money back home to family, saving money to buy a house in home country or the fact that immigrants might spend their money on mostly imported cheaper goods which productions does not really create or keep some of the basic jobs shall sugest that money earned by immigrants can contribute to the host economy in rather a limited way. Still claiming that all immigrants behave like this would be generalising based on half facts, half prejudice.
    Let’s presume that the economical value of immigrants as a work force is possitive – if not financially as such than for the state and market infrastructure.
    From personal observation in Britain, absence of Brits in work is not such issue. The real problem is the absence of parents in work therefore absence of examples of working adults in the family, which would demonstrate work as a way how to obtain income. From my point of view it is not about whether low skilled British labour would have 20 pounds a week less on job seekers allowence because the state has to redistribute part of its income on immigrants’ babies.
    Immigrants did not cause closing down the mines, cloth mills or redundencies of ten thousands dockers – it was a technical innovation and market principles. However combination of current immigrations and social welfare tools might multiply exponencially unemployment impact on future society and social structures.

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