Opposition to immigration is an absolute nuisance to every politician who possesses thought. Like the death penalty, and (decreasingly) abortion and civil rights for homosexuals, all intelligent politicians recognise the correct policy action, but are often constrained by the general public's opinion.
All intelligent politicians recognise that the more open a country to migration, in either direction; the more successful and dynamic its economy. Politicians and public servants urgently need to recognise the need for adopting policies that reflect this reality, and not the fantasy view of migration that exists in the public's head.
Migration causes the integration of humans who would, if the artificial barriers of states had their way, otherwise would not integrate. This exchange of information and ideas has incredibly valuable social and economic value that is undeniable. Of equally undeniable value is the freedom of humans to move around the globe as unconstrained as is realistically possible. Acts of parliaments and assemblies are a realistic barrier to disassemble. People should be able to move around and live where they like, all things being equal. This right, this progressive aim, should be the aim of every progressive government across the world.
Often progressive, rational governments must help their populations when they are dragging their heels. Lord Jenkins, then just lowly Roy Jenkins, dragged Britain's laws into the twentieth century in the 1960's by legalising abortion and homosexual intercourse and abolishing the death penalty, despite possessing no public mandate to do so. He didn't need to listen to the voters, because on these issues they were wrong, and these policies were good for them.
Gay marriage has not had such champions at the heart of government; it has had to wait until public opinion, or widespread public indifference (which, given the subject, isn't too much of a problem) has finally caught up with reality. But whilst politicians may no longer expect too much punishment at the polls for embracing a liberal policy on homosexual marriage, doing anything expect growling at the horrible, job-stealing immigrants is still a sure-fire vote loser.
Consistent academic reports on the benefits of immigration have failed, over the history of the post-war political arrangement, in almost every liberal democracy, to produce a significant shift in public opinion. Only in the United States is the Democratic Party, with its multi-cultural voting base, embracing a clear, if not firm, pro-immigration stance.
Whilst opposition to immigration has lost most of its outrageous racist elements, except in particularly unenlightened sections of society, it is a constant frustration to attempts to follow logical policies. Even when the truth about such views are aired, that they are essentially bigotry, the intelligent views are decried and punished. Gordon Brown's dismissal of a voter's all-too-common complaints about immigration as such may have cost him the 2010 general election.
In Britain, it most seriously emerges by dangerously attacking vital institutions that plug the UK into the rest of the world, and are seen as furious rabbit holes that allow all sorts of dodgy foreigners in through the cliffs of Dover. The European Union, along with the European Court of Human Rights, is the most common victim of this reactionary nonsense, where a sudden concern with virtually imaginary sovereignty is the weapon in a continuous, awful, attempted murder of a sensible economic or social policy.
Economic and political integration into bigger and bigger units is merely the continuation of human development over history; the smallest political units over time became semblances of the countries that we know today. We are merely in another period of change where these countries are becoming as irrelevant as the states they replaced. Part of the process of making them rightfully irrelevant, as they cease to effective, is allowing fluid movement between them.
To facilitate this change, governments will have to circumvent their constituents as they have done in the past. Like capital punishment, which a majority of British people, for example, are still in favour of, the government must forge ahead with a policy that it deems to be unpopular.
The government must rediscover its role of leadership. This will require all political parties of any progressive conscience, which should in a modern democracy be all of them, to adapt this policy as sure they would the policy of maintaining a standing professional army or collecting income taxes. No matter the populist reaction.