'The more economic difficulties increase, the more immigration will be seen as a burden. The so-called workers' states seal themselves off more than others as a way of building a protective wall against cheap labour. The newcomer after all must be either cheaper or better'.
Quite a common sentiment in the UK these days. From conversations in tax-avoiding coffee shop chains to endless television debates: 'the main problem with this country is immigration'. Specifically, the thousands of immigrants who have come to the country over the past 10 years to work for cheaper rates or to claim benefits.
My family has experienced the decimation of jobs in the construction industry, I have personally encountered Eastern Europeans being allowed a pension when they have never worked or lived in the UK and most people in the UK will have similar stories. Despite claims that immigrant workers do a better job for half the price - 'the newcomer must be cheaper or better' - it would seem that the majority of people in the country would be happier if British jobs were for British people. Should we look after our own before we allow others into the country to share? Is that racism or nationalism?
But let's be clear who an immigrant is. According to the online Oxford Dictionary, an immigrant is 'a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country'. Fair enough. Here's a thought: when you've either spoken about immigrants or heard others speak about immigrants, when was the last time they referred to an Italian or French person? When we debate the great UK immigration problem do we mean Marek the plumber or Gino D'Acampo? Think about it.
At times of nationwide economic adversity (high unemployment, low job opportunities etc.) there seems to be a call to conserve what resources exist for the nation's own citizens. It's hard not to sympathise with the idea that immigration is a 'burden' on the state. Wouldn't you agree?
What if I told you that the quote at the top of this article is taken from a translation of Adolf Hitler's 1927 Nuremberg Rally address to the Party? Cue: jaw dropping unease. Do you still agree?
I feel duty bound to assure you that I am in no way a Nazi sympathiser. The point is that Germany in the 1920's faced similar economic and national identity issues. The solution was extreme to say the least.
If we accept that immigration is a massive problem with the socio-economy of the country then what is to be done? We may be able to act on restricting future immigration but what about the immigrants already here? Do we identify them? Isolate and contain them? Deport them? Make them wear badges, herd them onto trains and send them back? If they are integrated, work hard and are part of society - why should they go back at all?
While immigration is an issue, it's also a fact. And here to stay. We live in a global culture where borders are generally dissipating. There are obvious measures to think about. New investment can help with the issues of unemployment but we need to consider a level playing field for anyone seeking employment and not the current scenario where immigrants are a preferred choice simply because they can undercut everyone else by receiving less than the going rate or minimum wage. Any money earned surely needs to go back into the UK economy and not be sent across Europe to feed the economy of another country. And should benefit money be made available to immigrants who have never worked in the UK and therefore never paid national insurance into the welfare pot? The effects of immigration need to be managed intelligently rather than being stamped out by a jackboot.
Fortunately, we have a group of people in the country with the job of managing this issue - the Government. Unfortunately, the Government seem more interested in deflecting the responsibility of sorting this out from themselves opting instead to use the media to stir up the country and blame individual immigrants for coming here. If you were told you could easily go to another country with a better standard of living, be given a house, job or benefits with more money than you are making at home, be able to buy your national goods in shops, mix in British communities, all without having to learn the language of that country, wouldn't you want to go there?
While there is a certain amount of understanding that immigration is an issue, we must consider escalation and take great care where we go from here. 12 years after making the above statement, Hitler's 'Obersalzberg Speech' changed his view of immigration as a 'burden' and gave 'the order to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of the Polish race or language'. The rest is history.