Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Minister's damning silence on migrants: He stonewalls four questions on how many Romanians and Bulgarians will come to Britain

Ministers threw a cloak of secrecy yesterday over how many Romanians and Bulgarians they expect to flood into the country.

To fury at Westminster, the Immigration Minister snubbed four MPs who asked him to reveal the figures – saying he did not want to scare people.

Mark Harper said it would not be ‘helpful’ to let the public know what to expect when border controls are lifted in less than 11 months. It is feared the wall of secrecy will leave town halls, schools and hospitals unable to prepare properly.

Tory MPs said it was ‘madness’ to throw open the UK’s borders without giving voters an idea of what to expect. The Government has carried out a study on how many of the 29million citizens of Romanian and Bulgaria might move to the UK when they get full EU rights in January.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles – who has seen the figures, and has warned of a potential shortage of housing – previously indicated they would be made available for public debate.

But, amid heated exchanges in the Commons yesterday, Mr Harper refused to share what the Government knows. He was asked repeatedly either to release the data or to explain what the Government was doing to deter a new wave of migration from Eastern Europe.

Mr Harper replied that he was chairing a Whitehall committee to look at how to stop migrants abusing the benefits system. Ideas include trying to make it harder for newcomers to access benefits or ask them to carry residence cards.

He told MPs: ‘Speculative projections about future inflows cannot be made with any degree of accuracy and are therefore not particularly helpful. That’s why the Government is focused on dealing with the abuse of free movement rights and also reducing the pull factors for migration. We want to make sure that when people look at the access to our benefits and our public services that no one thinks we are a soft touch in this country.’

An estimate by the MigrationWatch think-tank has suggested the number of arrivals will average 50,000 a year for the first five years – the equivalent of a city the size of Newcastle or Plymouth.

Tensions are rising among Tory MPs who want the Government to take firm action.

They fear David Cameron’s promise to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ will be fatally undermined if large numbers arrive from Romania and Bulgaria, two of the poorest countries in the EU.

Currently, they are subject to transitional controls which limit the number of work permits available to low-skilled workers to around 20,000 a year. But, from the start of 2014, these arrangements will be abandoned, giving workers free access to the UK jobs market.

Speaking at Home Office Questions, Tory Philip Hollobone said his constituents believed it was ‘madness to open our borders to 29million people’.

He called for ministers to force EU nationals who wanted to live in the UK for more than three months to apply for a residency card.

His colleague David Ruffley said action must be taken to curb ‘welfare tourism that can only add to British public spending’. Another Tory, James Clappison, asked Mr Harper specifically to comment on the MigrationWatch estimate of 50,000 a year. But Mr Harper repeatedly refused to provide any indication of numbers.

He said: ‘We want to make sure that we offer what we need to under the treaties, but no more.’

Ministers say they do not want to create ‘scare’ stories – which some MPs have taken to mean the figure is high. However, an alternative scenario is that the number produced by officials is low, and would make the Government a hostage to fortune. Labour has never recovered from saying a mere 13,000 people would come from Poland in 2004, only for hundreds of thousands of workers to arrive.

Last night there were new demands to publish the figures.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch, said: ‘There is surely a need for an intelligent estimate. The worst option, surely, is just to muddle on.’

Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, accused the Government of being ‘confused’ on the issue and urged ministers to commission research on how many immigrants were likely to arrive.


A Blueprint for U.S. Immigration Reform

Revisiting the Jordan Commission Report

In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama is expected to re-iterate his stance on immigration.  He would do well to examine the thoroughly-researched, well-documented findings of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform (the Jordan Commission) that spent more than five years – and numerous hearings – dealing with “comprehensive immigration reform” before taking to the podium.

Named for the late Barbara Jordan, the Commission was comprised of four Democratic appointees and four Republican ones, and with three chairs who were, in turn, a member of the College of Cardinals; a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives; and a former member of the president’s cabinet. Its work was summed up in these words:

    "The credibility of immigration policy can be measured by a simple yardstick: people who should get in, do get in; people who should not get in are kept out; and people who are judged deportable are required to leave."

The new CIS report is online  here.

“The Jordan Commission put forth a plan intended to serve America’s national interests. We could learn today from their emphasis on facilitating assimilation, reducing job competition, and lowering fiscal costs,” comments report author David North, a CIS fellow and respected immigration policy researcher. “Their recommendations included emphasizing the nuclear family and eliminating chain migration categories, the cancelation of the visa lottery which randomly gives out 50,000 green cards a year and focusing instead on needed workers, strong border control, and a worker verification system.”

The Backgrounder describes the detailed recommendations of the Commission’s report, Becoming an American: Immigration and Immigrant Policy, which called for the nation to:

 *   Integrate the immigrants now in the U.S. more thoroughly;

*   Reduce the total number of legal immigrants to about 550,000 a year;

*   Rationalize the nonimmigrant visa program;

*   Enforce the immigration law vigorously with no further amnesties; and

*   Reorganize the management of the immigration processes within the government.

Mr. North contends three factors make the Commission’s report persuasive, even today. First, only one of the members represented an immigration interest group, and there were no unions or corporation representatives, no executives of either more-migration of less-migration organizations. Second, the Commission did not act quickly to suggest an answer to the country’s complex immigration needs; they took five years to study immigration matters and to discuss various approaches. Third, the Commission focused not only on who should be admitted and in what numbers, but also the role immigrants should play in society after admittance.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820,  Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076.  Email: CONTACT: Marguerite Telford 202-466-8185,

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