The Blog

6 Arguments People Make Against Immigration (Despite Evidence To The Contrary)

Immigrants don't strain resources, come here for benefits, or think we're a soft touch. Yes, they speak English, and yes - there's enough space.

Immigrants - am I right? Everybody wants to have their coffee made for them in less than thirty seconds - yes, with chocolate - but nobody wants to stick up for our bilingual brethren.

Let's face facts: what strip of land you're born in is all a matter of chance, and beside a language difference and a different taste in food, where you're from has naff-all to do with what you're like as a person. So why does everyone love to give immigrants a hard time?

Is it because they're racist? Of course not! Racism was something that disappeared in the fifties, and everyone who has had an opinion that doesn't favour foreigners since then has simply been a well-meaning individual with finely crafted opinions influenced by an unbiased and impartial media.

No, people don't like immigrants coming just because they're foreign! They don't like them because...

  • 'They put a strain on resources!'

Or do they? The 'resources' argument is the common or garden variety of anti-immigration rhetoric, but the evidence is far to the contrary. In fact, migrant workers are more of a resource themselves.

EU immigrants have contributed £5 billion more to the UK's economy than they used in benefits and public services since 2004 (£20 billion overall.) According to analysis by the University College London Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, these migrants are 43% less likely than UK-born workers to receive state benefits or tax credits, and 7% less likely to live in social housing.

Which brings us nicely onto that other argument:

  • 'They only come here for benefit handouts and a council house'

Whilst it makes sense that immigrants from countries with less extensive welfare systems might want to travel elsewhere to make use of others, this is another mistruth perpetuated by certain newspapers printing non-descript photos of council houses and telling you that there are immigrants inside with 19 kids and £21,000 worth of benefit cheques.

According to an EHRC study, only 5% of new social housing lets go to foreign nationals, whilst 60% of new migrants to the UK live in privately rented accommodation - and if their rents are anything like mine, it's hardly a failure for the British economy.

  • 'They come here because we're a soft touch'

David Cameron is sat in his parlour, smoking a pipe when a colleague pipes up and asks him: 'Why do so many of those foreign chaps want to come here anyway?'

Dave's brow furrows - he hasn't really thought about it that way before. He takes a long puff and exhales before replying: 'Maybe it's because we're so bloody lovely to absolutely everyone.'

The idea that migrants flock to a Conservative-led Britain for a pound in the pocket and a mint on the pillow is one of almost satirical proportions, and comparing our benefit and immigration policies to other EU countries puts that in perspective.

According to research by the Centre for Population Change in 2007, the percentage of GDP spent on social security by the UK lagged far behind countries France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain - long before the Conservatives tightened the purse-strings and employed measures to stop migrants claiming benefits.

  • 'Britain is a migrant's dream destination'

This is another common argument that has more to do with rubbing our own backs and congratulating ourselves on being so damn great than it does with the motives of actual migrants.

The sad truth is, the Land of Hope & Glory just isn't that far up on everyone's to-do list. Immigration as a percentage of population (the figure that tells us whether or not we're actually being 'overwhelmed') in the UK is quite low at half a percent, behind Belgium, The Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.

  • 'There's not enough space!'

This classic conjures up images of people leaving their house in the morning only to hunch their shoulders so that they don't knock into anyone on their way through the standing rows of endless people.

Fortunately, we're not quite at the point where people are struggling not to fall off the White Cliffs of Dover on their way to work each morning. There's even no need to grab your shovel and start redistributing land so that we have more places to sit: we are, unsurprisingly, not about to run out of places to live any time soon. In fact, 635,127 homes in the UK are currently empty - not a great state of affairs, admittedly, but it is not the fault of Polish builders or Romanian baristas.

However, our island attitudes might have something to do with our fear of running out of space. Germany tops us in influx of immigrants, but are significantly less concerned by it. In 2014, over 40% of British people thought that Immigration was one of the two most important issues facing our country, with the German equivalent coming in at only 20%.

  • 'They come here and don't speak a word of English'

Sadly for you, Britain First supporters et al, this isn't true either. Despite The Sun's best attempts to twist the numbers like a pipe cleaner on Art Attack, the findings of the Office of National Statistics are clear: only 1.6% of the total population think they don't 'speak English well or not at all,' and only 0.3% shrugging at the interviewer and shaking their heads - at least, I'm guessing that's what constitutes the answer of someone who doesn't speak a word of English.

So despite what language you hear people speaking on the bus this morning - that is their choice, by the way - you can let the English skills of fellow citizens slide neatly off your list of things to worry about.

And whilst you're at it - take immigration off there altogether.