The key issues surrounding contemporary immigration

The subject of immigration has become increasingly important over the past decade. Immigration has always raised questions about positive and negative effects on the native population. Nowadays inhabitants are more and more afraid about losing control over their own country and losing typical historical values. As (Weiner, 1996) wrote: “… the consequences of opening the borders of a country in extreme situations can be erosion of the institutions and values that liberal societies have created for themselves and which make them attractive to outsiders”. This essay will therefore discuss key issues of immigration into the United Kingdom such as economic issues, including employment, society and social issues such as crime, integration and racism.

It has been argued that immigrants play an important role to develop the economy by taking certain low paid jobs which the native population decline to take. Examples could include jobs in the construction industry, catering and domestic services. Moreover immigrants compensate skill shortages in the United Kingdom. They take jobs in the health service such as nurses and doctors. Not surprisingly 30% of doctors and more than 10% of nurses working in national health services and private companies are non-UK born. Other jobs being filled with overseas staff include teaching and jobs in the IT industry. Due to a shortage of trained IT staff, a further 50,000 people need to be recruited by the end of 2009 to make up the gap of unskilled workforce (Glover, 2001). The British government therefore runs a number of different programmes like the work permit system and the highly skilled migrant programme to animate agencies and companies to recruit highly skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area (McLaughlan and Salt, 2002).

However there are fears that if immigrants integrate into the employment market, they may become a competition for native employees. More people are applying for fewer jobs which may lead to rising tension between natives and immigrants (Angenendt, 1999). When an immigrant takes up a job, be it low paid or high skilled, he will then possibly send a substantial part of his wages back to his home country. The domestic British economy loses a considerable amount of money this way which might be, even if only lightly, damaging. An increasing number of immigrants looking for low skilled jobs results in more difficulties for natives to obtain a job and may diminish the wages they can get (Coleman, 2004).

Further research shows that more needs to be done to control immigration in order to avoid competition between natives and immigrants and to fill those jobs that can’t be filled with natives because of a lag of skill.

It is suggested by Angenendt(1999) that one of the key issues of immigration after unemployment, that the United Kingdom faced today, is crime. Tackling Fraud including both ‘people trafficking’, where someone is brought to the United Kingdom, and ‘people smuggling’ where someone is transport to international borders to a non-official entry point for different reasons. This organised immigration crime is a growth industry and cost the United Kingdom millions of pounds each year (Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration with Diversity in Modern Britain, 2002). Smugglers are often paid huge amounts of money to bring refugees, who are trying to escape prosecution, hunger or poverty, into the United Kingdom. However, the British government has taken many steps to prevent the growth and to fight trafficking, including the strengthening of the law and the use of new technologies to identify illegal entrance into the United Kingdom (Fekete, 2009). Unfortunately those actions make desperate people turn to smugglers. The way refugees are being treated by the smugglers led to death by poison, suffocation and hypothermia. How careless and ruthless traffickers are, was sadly shown by the 58 Chinese who suffocated in the back of a refrigerated lorry which was trying to enter the United Kingdom in Dover (Fekete, 2009).

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The next important issue is crime committed by foreigners and racism. Due to cultural differences and often simply habits, many immigrants misbehave or break the law. They carry knifes because they used to do that in the country of origin and now keep on doing it. In the time between 2003 and 2004 the arrests made for drink driving rose from 57 to 966 in the county of Cambridgeshire. All of the arrested people were of a foreign nationality (Attewill, page 1 2007). The capital London has also seen an increase in the crimes committed. There has been a 35% rise in the total number of crimes committed by Poles in the time between January and June 2007, compared to the same period a year earlier. In the first half year of 2007 Jamaicans committed 28 sex offences followed by Indians,27 and Pakistani, 25 (Harper and Leapman, page 1, 2007).

To stop organised crime the government has formed a new elite squad of investigators. The UK-wide Serious Organised Crime Agency will use world-class hi-tech,-financial experts and 21th century technology to track down Crime bosses and prevent them from drug trafficking, people smuggling, fraud and money laundering (Homeoffice press release, 2004). The metropolitan police announced the arrest of two people on suspicion of murder of a 15-year old teenager in January 2009. The coloured teenager who has been identified as Steven Lewis was stabbed to death in London’s East end (, 2009). Refugee-Week is a UK-wide program of educational and cultural events to celebrate the contributions of refugees to the United Kingdom. Events like this aim at a better understanding between communities so that attacks on foreign people, such as the attacks on Romanians and Roma in Belfast in the first half of 2009, will not happen again (Leicester Mercury, 2009). The few people that are actually willing to help the victims of racism and discrimination are often attacked themselves. Paddy Meehan received a death threat after he was trying to help his neighbours in the aftermath of the racial attack against his Romanian nearby-residents. Mr Meehan gives a good example and sad he will not give up on helping those targeted by racism (BelfastTelegraph, 2009).

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A better education of the culture of the host country and greater tolerance from the natives for foreign cultures are the right steps on the way forward to reduce immigrant related crimes.

The large number of immigrants coming into the United Kingdom is bringing their own background and different culture, as discussed earlier. So does immigration imply integration? In order to speed up integration the immigrant should have knowledge of the language spoken in the country he is entering. Reading and writing skills enable access to the labour market and educational systems (Voicu,2009). On the other hand inhabitants of the host country need to show tolerance and openness, an understanding of the advantages and challenges that go along with a multicultural society. Traditions and cultures need to be respected by both, the natives and the immigrants. Both should have a basic knowledge of each other’s culture and habits in order to avoid confrontations, misunderstandings and to make life in a community easier and more enjoyable (Voicu,2009). Unfortunately building a community that includes both, natives and immigrants, isn’t easy.

The large scale in which migrants have come to the United Kingdom in the last two decades often led to the existence of communities with the same previous cultural identity. The resulting separation of natives and immigrants, so called ‘ghettoisation’ is regarded as threatening by many native Britons. The extend of ‘ghettoisation’ is so big that many parts of the United Kingdom are seen as exclusively ‘owned’ by immigrant communities. Ethnic segregation is also transferred into the classroom. In the London borough of Tower Hamlets, 17 schools had more than 90 per cent Bangladeshi pupils. This separation clearly did not result from the school choice of the parents but from the residential segregation (Buofino, 2007).

A greater tolerance, open mind and interest in other cultures as well as the knowledge of different languages would mean a big step forward to the complete integration of immigrants into the British Society.

The institutions, values and a thriving economy always made the United Kingdom an attractive country for outsiders. Only in the last decade, with opening its borders, a sharp increase in the number of migrants was noticeable. The impact and effects this immigration has on the employment market, levels of crime and racism was therefore discussed in this essay. Outlining the achievements and work that has been done to integrate the migrants, as well as stating shortcomings in the integration process, leaves no question that yet more needs to be done to fully engage the immigrants into the British society.


Abdelmalek, S. (2004). The Suffering of the Immigrant. Cambridge: Polity Press Ltd.

Angenendt, S. (1999). Asylum and Migration Policies in the European Union. Bonn: Europa Union Verlag.

Attewill, F. (2007, September 19). Increased Immigration boosts knife crime and drink driving [Electronic version]. The Guardian. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from Guardian website:

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Buonfino, A. (2007). Rethinking Immigration and Integration: a New Centre-Left Agenda. London: Policy Network.

Coleman, D & Rowthhorn, R. (2004, December). The Economic Effects of Immigration into United Kingdom. Population and Development Review, 30(4), 579-624. Retrieved November 21, 2009, from JSTOR database.

Fekete, L. (2009). A Suitable Enemy: Racism, Migration and Islamophobia in Europe. London: Pluto Press.

Glover, S. (2001). Migration: an economic and social analysis (Home Office Research Study 67).London: Home Office.

Great Britain. Home Office. (2002). Secure Borders, Safe Haven. Norwich: HMSO.

Great Britain. Home Office. (2004). New UK-Wide Organised Crime Agency Pooling Expertise To Track Down The Crime Bosses. London: HSMO.

Harper, T. & Leapman, B. (2007, September 23). Foreigners commit fifth of crime in London [Electronic version]. The Telegraph. Retrieved September 23, 2009, from Telegraph website:

London stabbing victim named locally as 15-year-old Steven Lewis. (2009, January 25). [Electronic version]. The Telegraph. Retrieved November 23, 2009, from Telegraph website:

McCreary, M & Smyth, L. (2009, August 18). Anti-racism campaigner receives firebomb threat. Belfast Telegraph, p. 12. Retrieved November 15, 2009, from the Nexis UK database.

McLaughlan, G. & Salt, J. (2002). Migration Policies toward Highly Skilled Foreign Workers (Report to the Home Office). Retrieved November 14, 2009, from the UK Home Office website:

Voicu, A. (2009). Romanian Journal of European Affairs, 9(2). Retrieved November 20, 2009, from

Weiner, M. (1996). Ethics, national sovereignty and the control of immigration. International Migration Review, 30(1), 171-197

Self reflection on essay writing

I have been asked to write an essay of about 1500 words. There were a number of titles to choose from. After careful consideration I decided to write about the ‘key issues surrounding contemporary immigration in a country of your choice’. As I am an immigrant myself I decided to write about the immigration into The United Kingdom. Using the Portsmouth University Library, the libraries online databases and Journals as well as online newspaper articles I quickly found lots of sources and interesting materials to read and choose from. The most important issues for me, when talking about immigration, are employment crime and integration. Considering these core issues I filtered my sources. Even though the sources were plentiful I sometimes found it difficult to find this one specific paragraph that I needed to support the knowledge about immigration that I already had. Having heard, read and experienced what it feels like to be an immigrant myself I could quit easily find myself in many of the situations that the newspapers and books described. Taking this and the facts that I received from the materials found, I then tried to put everything into an engaging piece of work that would be enjoyable and interesting to read. Considering that this was my first essay and the first in a foreign language, I hope I didn’t do too badly. Surely I learned a lot and will try to further improve the next essays that I will write.

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