The top 5 immigration stories of the week, from 31st August – 6th September 2020:
1. Gary Lineker heads campaign for refugees
Former professional football player and TV personality Gary Lineker made the news last week, putting a celebrity face behind the message that Britain wouldn’t be Britain without refugees. In a video which received a somewhat controversial response from the public on social media, Lineker joined together with Jo Brand and Yasmin Kadi to share the story of Britain’s beloved fish and chip supper came to be. Spoiler alert: both of the essential components of this quintessential British dish were brought to the island by refugees. The video has received thousands of shares across social media with the core message that refugees are essential to our country.
2. Home Office comments on refugees crossing the channel
The Home Office have made comment that, as widely expected, the migrants who have been making the perilous journey across the English channel in previous weeks are “overwhelmingly genuine refugees’. Figures show that the vast majority of the refugees making the crossing over the channel are being granted asylum status immediately, or come from countries where their chances of being granted UK asylum are very high. A senior official at the Home Office has made comment that of the near 5000 asylum seekers who have crossed the channel so far in 2020, “98% have claimed asylum”. Of this number, “0% of those have been granted, 10% have been refused and a further 71% have been refused because we are not the responsible country, i.e., they have travelled through a safe country before they came here.” It is not usual protocol than figures on these boat crossings are published.
3. Tony Blair makes comments on the need to move towards digital ID’s
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said it is “common sense to move in the direction of digital IDs” as part of efforts to fight coronavirus. Mr Blair said there should be a record kept by the government of those vaccinated against the virus. The government recently set out plans to change laws to enable the use of digital identity across the UK. As prime minister, Mr Blair launched a compulsory ID card scheme, but it was scrapped by the coalition government. Blair stated, ”You’ll want a record kept by the government of who’s been vaccinated – this will be essential, again, to restoring confidence.” This isn’t the first time that Blair has championed digital ID’s since leaving office, previously claiming that they would be an essential way to combat illegal immigration in the UK.
4. Brits are realising the true impact of a ‘hostile environment’ in the UK
Back in 2012, Theresa May declared that she wanted to create a “really hostile environment” for irregular migrants in the UK. Since this statement, the government have rolled out a number of measures to create this unfair hostile environment. In the past week, this buzzword has cropped back up with reports agreeing that, as expected from a policy with such a harsh name, the hostile environment created in the UK has had destitute impact on individuals and communities. The Institute for Public Policy Research published a report suggesting that the hostile environment has “contributed to forcing many people into destitution, has helped to foster racism and discrimination, and has erroneously affected people with the legal right to live and work in the UK”.
5. Net migration is now the highest in the UK since March 2016
Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, January 2020-March 2020 saw a net migration to the UK of 313,000. This saw an increase from the 221,000 in the same period the previous year. Throughout the outbreak of COVID-19 and as a result of the UK and countries across the world being under lockdown and travel restrictions, migration dropped following March 2020. However, data shows that the UK is now at its highest level. An ONS report shows that in the 12-months to March 2020, approximately 715,000 people arrived in the UK to live, work or study, while 403,000 left the country. The majority of people arriving in the UK during this period came to study, with 257,000 coming to take courses, while 458,000 came for family, work or other reasons. Data suggests that the arrival of Chinese and Indian students on Tier 4 visas who have entered the UK to study are the driving force in this increase in immigration.