Typically, when people think of borders, they imagine rigid, immovable, and eternal lines in the ground which demarcate our land from another. A cursory glance at history quickly dispels this familiar narrative.
We see that borders are imagined constructs which alienate one set of people from another. The question is, are they necessary?
Keeping out aliens
The first immigration act British parliament passed was in 1905.
The Aliens Act sought to prevent Jewish migrants fleeing persecution from Eastern Europe from settling in Britain. It was openly bigoted with xenophobic British organisations campaigning to keep out Jewish migrants and tabloids describing them as criminal and diseased.
This act mirrors the 1968 law, which aimed to prevent black and brown migrants from newly independent countries from migrating to Britain.
Borders are not a matter of preserving order; instead, it seeks deliberately control who is allowed in and who is not. To determine who is a citizen and who is an immigrant.
The most common argument you are likely to come across is the claim that migrants undercut workers’ wages.
However, copious volumes of research have debunked this myth. The London School of Economics found that migration had little to no impact on employment levels while the Bank of England reported a less than two per cent impact on low-skilled work. Economists, such as Michael Clemens, claim that by abolishing borders, we could double GDP.
Why is this?
Well, one reason may be that migrants who do come to the UK often come to start up their own businesses or have new innovative ideas that help the economy to grow. But the second reason is that those with the power to dictate wages are employers. With strict employment laws, the undercutting of wages with cheap migrant labour is not possible.
Concerns over wages demand protected living wages, not xenophobic policies.
Open borders put migrants at risk
The claim put forwards by far-right politicians such as Nigel Farage is that European countries which are too generous incentivise migrants to make a perilous journey which leads thousands to die. In his defence, an approximate five thousand people die every year trying to travel from the Mediterranean to Europe.
What this narrative fails to do is understand the reason they are leaving their home country. Hundreds of thousands of people are forced to flee from their homes due to war, poverty, and starvation. If we care about migrants, we would not be pulling up the draw bridge but instead making the journey as safe as possible.
European countries often pay countries in the region to accept migrants, but countries like Libya or Sudan, which receive pay in terms of aid, have horrific human rights records. These countries are known to torture and abuse migrants.
In the UK, immigration authorities detain over 30,000 people for breaching their immigration rules. This means that they can be thrown in detention without having committed any offence than overstaying their visa.
Let us be honest
The fact of the matter is that almost everyone supports fully endorses unlimited migration for themselves, but they do not extend that courtesy for others. In Britain, this is particularly shameful as it is migrants who made the country what it is.
Britain had the world’s largest empire and stole wealth and resources on a global scale. It had promised commonwealth countries, that they would treat its citizens as their own, but this seems only to have applied to predominately white immigrants.
Let us get past these common misconceptions and create a migration system which recognises the value that immigrants bring to the United Kingdom.