Immigration vs border control

On the issue of the EU, Nigel Farage likes to use the phrase “take back control of our borders”. This phrase causes a lot of confusion. I normally support most of Farage’s ideas but this statement may be one of his more unhelpful ones. People going through the UK border will see passport checks being carried out, and many will think, “hey, we do have border control”. And they would be right – the UK has checks on who enters the country.

However, what Nigel Farage is actually referring to, is the fact of uncontrollable immigration from within the EU. Anyone within the EU can enter the UK to find work and stay permanently. This is a simple reality.

The difference between border control and immigration is this: Border control determines who gets to come in, immigration control determines who gets to stay.

Almost anyone with a valid passport and visa is allowed to enter the UK. But only EU members are allowed to stay and make a living without additional paperwork. Those without an EU passport are only allowed to stay the duration of their visa. If they wish to reside and find work, they will need a work permit.

A work permit can only be obtained from the government by your employer applying on your behalf. To be granted a work permit, your employer has to first prove that the job has been advertised within the UK and the EU, and that no suitable candidate can be found within the EU despite your recruitment efforts.

Can you see how this system of employment is discriminatory? It particularly discriminates against people from the Americas, East Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Australasia. Normally, this is plenty of fodder for hysterical activists to cry ‘racism’. But personally I don’t think it’s driven by racism. I think it’s just a stupid protectionist policy.

Yes, the UK does have border control. But in terms of immigration control, that is next to useless. It’s akin to saying that your house has a door, except everyone in your neighborhood has the key to it. The UK border is your door. The EU passport is the key.

The only way this system can be justified is if it treats the EU as a homogenous state, which it isn’t. The vast numbers of immigration has concerned the UK population for a long time now, over a decades.

Many argue that all migrants from should be welcome. That sounds like a nice sentiment, doesn’t it? If that was the case, why aren’t they arguing that the UK should abolish all forms of border control for visa requirements and work permits? It’s pretty obvious to me that those who make this kind of argument are just being sentimental. The practical consequences of implementing this sentiment hasn’t been worked out. National borders have been established for centuries and these border controls are getting stronger for a reason. Not all countries and cultures are the same. Borders have been established over time to prevent the outbreak of conflict due to these differences.

What makes the EU so special that these borders are being eroded? It seems pretty evident to me that the ones leading the EU charge wish for a European super-state, a huge nation that economically and militarily rivals the USA, China, and Russia. But whilst China and Russia are slowly devolving power and governance to smaller regions, the EU attempts to centralise these governing powers within the EU, issuing laws and directives that attempt to cover everything but ultimately suits nothing. I argue the problem of centralising power on such a large scale in a previous post: https://hoongwai1984.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/why-it-is-necessary-for-government-to-be-small/.

Going back to the UK then: Is Nigel Farage right or wrong? Does the UK have the ability to control its borders?
I’m afraid Farage is right. The UK has border control, but in terms of the EU, it’s nothing more than a checkpoint. It is completely incapable of controlling immigration. Anyone from the EU can come here to either work or claim benefits.

On a side note, there is also a laughable meme making the rounds:
https://www.tumblr.com/search/schrodinger’s%20immigrant
Since migrants are stealing your jobs and claiming your benefits, they must be like a Schroedinger’s cat, if they are capable of being in both states at the same time. And yet the shallowness of this meme is lost on so many people. In case you still don’t get it, here it is: two migrants come in. One claims welfare and housing benefits and doesn’t work. One undercuts you on wages when he finds work. Both can be true. What I find even more ironic is that I have personally met migrants who simultaneously claim benefits, whilst also working illegally, untaxed. Do I get a Nobel prize for discovering this Schroedinger’s immigrant?

However, it is very important to note this one thing: being critical of immigration is very different from disliking immigrants. Immigrants are individuals who have their own lives and are seeking every opportunity to better themselves. Immigration control policy (or the lack thereof) has the effect of encouraging or discouraging immigration. If you have built a marvellous civilisation, peaceful, rich, diverse and attractive in every way, it is bound to attract people. Of course, a loving civilisation should also welcome those who want to participate. But to what degree is it possible to do this?

Compare North Korea and South Korea. South Korea is eminently more desirable than North Korea. Does anyone argue that the South Koreans should open up the borders and welcome all North Koreans with open arms? It sounds like such a lovely sentiment, doesn’t it? Sadly, sentimental emotions don’t make good policy. When politicians decide on such a national policy, they have to consider the capacity of their social and economic infrastructure. If you wish to maintain balance in society, immigration cannot be uncontrolled. If immigration arrives en masse without consideration for capacity, there will be massive problems of housing, food, employment, and social integration.

Thankfully, immigration from the EU is not nearly so severe. Most member states of the EU are economically and politically balanced enough that not all of them will wish to migrate. So who does migrate? Those on the higher end of the economic scale who are sufficiently rich and mobile to do so, and those on the lower end of the economic scale who are desperate enough to migrate and work for less than the locals. My stepfather was one of the latter. Many of my personal friends fit the former group.

Personally, I’m undecided as to whether or not there is too much immigration. In the public arena, any talk of immigration is immediately branded as racism or nationalism. This means that there is so little debate or discussion on the subject that there is very little useful information that can be gleaned.

However, let’s not dismiss this important point: discussion of immigration is moot if you cannot even control immigration.

The only part of society that benefits from free immigration are businesses who don’t care about local employment. To be fair, businesses need to thrive to survive, and I don’t blame them for wanting to make a profit. But that’s not going to benefit you as an employment candidate. You won’t be competing with *just* the rest of your nation for local jobs, you will now be competing with the rest of the EU.

Half of my closest friends are immigrants, and I would do almost anything for them.

I love immigrants. I AM an immigrant.

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Author: Hoong-Wai

I'm a sinner. I have an interest in economics, philosophy, politics, science, sociology, technology, theology (in alphabetical order). I care about truth and justice. I can be a contrarian.

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