Thursday, May 2, 2013

One in three babies in England now has a parent who was born abroad

Almost a third of all children born in England and Wales now has at least one foreign-born parent,  figures reveal.

In 2011, 224,943 babies had either one or both parents born outside the UK – 31 per cent of the total.

This is a substantial rise on the figure in 2000, when just 21.2 per cent of babies had at least one non-British-born father or mother.

The statistics, obtained by Tory MP Nicholas Soames, show that some 131,288 children had two foreign-born parents – 18.1 per cent of the total number of births in 2011.

A further 12.9 per cent – a total of 93,655 – had one parent who was born outside the UK.

At the end of the year, immigration restrictions will be lifted on Romanians and Bulgarians – prompting concerns that the numbers will rise yet further.

Andrew Green, of MigrationWatch, said the figures were ‘astonishing’. He added: ‘This is the clear result of Labour’s mass immigration policy which is changing the nature of our  society at a speed which is unacceptable to the public who of course were never consulted.’

The figures – obtained after a parliamentary question – show that 64.9 per cent of babies born in London in 2011 had either  one or two parents born outside the UK.

There were 27,403 births where one parent was foreign-born (20.6 per cent of the total), and 58,905 where both were born abroad (44.3 per cent).

David Green, from the centre-right think-tank Civitas, said: ‘The irresponsible actions of the last government have played havoc with public services, leading to serious harm especially in the NHS, and serious harm in the schools system.

‘Maternity units are in crisis, there are huge pressures on school places, and housing is under even more pressure that it otherwise would have been.’

A spokesman for the Office for National Statistics said that in 2000, the proportion of babies in England and Wales born to at least one foreign-born parent was 21.2 per cent.

It is the first time the figures have been released on both  parents. The ONS usually only releases information on what proportion of mothers are foreign-born.

Last October, it was revealed that in 2011, there were 808,000 births, comprised of 612,000 births to UK-born women  and 196,000 births to non-UK born women.

This meant that 24 per cent of births in 2011 were to non-UK born women – an increase of two percentage points since 2007.

The top five non-UK born mothers’ countries by number of births were Poland, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

Not all births are necessarily to parents who live in Britain permanently, as some could be people who travel to the UK to take advantage of its free NHS.

Last month, a leading surgeon, Professor Meirion Thomas, said the UK was becoming the ‘world’s maternity wing’ as  people travel here simply to  give birth.

Years of high immigration levels have put intolerable pressure on maternity units because the number of births has been  far higher than officials had  predicted. There is currently a shortage of more than 3,000 midwives in the NHS.


Why An Immigration Deal Won't Solve The Farmworker Shortage

The Salinas Valley in Northern California grows about 80 percent of the country's lettuce, and it takes a lot of people to pick and pack it. In a field owned by Duda Farm Fresh Foods, a dozen lechugueros, or lettuce pickers, are bent at the waist, cutting heads of iceberg lettuce. They work frantically to stay in front of a line of 12 more packers, who seal them with tape and toss them onto a conveyor belt.

"There's a lot more going on here than meets the eye," says Sammy Duda, the company's vice president. "The way the lettuce is trimmed is much more difficult to do if you don't trim it properly."

Duda hires 1,000 or more field workers every harvest, paying them about $12 an hour. Many don't have papers, but Duda says he has no other choice. Hardly any Americans apply for these jobs, he says, and most who do, don't stay.

"This has always been an immigrant job, whether it's, like I say, back from the Dust Bowl group," Duda says. "This is not a new phenomenon."

Labor shortages aren't a new phenomenon, either, in this valley made famous by John Steinbeck. But things have gotten worse lately.

A lot of the migrant workers who came from rural Mexico are getting too old for this back-breaking work, and their kids don't want to do it at all.

"It's hard, because I've been working in the fields for like 12 years now," says 29-year-old Marco Lara.

He says many of his extended family and friends back in his native Mexican state of Michoacan don't want to cross the border right now. Hiring a "coyote" costs a lot more than it once did, and the border is a lot more dangerous.

"There's people that just don't want to risk coming here," Lara says. "I [lost] two friends on the border three years ago."

Duda says the proposed immigration overhaul bill might solve some of these problems. For one, it would give thousands of workers a path to legal residency and make it easier for others to enter the U.S. But he says those things are probably just stopgap fixes.

"It'll help us in the short term. The long term? Remains to be seen," Duda says.

Since the late 1990s, there has been a slow but steady decline in the number of rural Mexicans migrating north. Agriculture economist Ed Taylor at the University of California, Davis, says that decline has little to do with U.S. immigration policy.

Taylor's research suggests that declining birth rates in rural Mexico, where the economy has also improved in recent years, is the reason why fewer migrants are coming to the U.S. And since farms in Mexico have also expanded to meet the year-round produce demands north of the border, why risk going north?

"Many [American] farmers also have this sense that, if Washington can just get its house in order and pass immigration reform, their problems will be over, and that isn't what our research is showing," Taylor says.

Farms here are going to have to learn how to do more with less immigrant labor, Taylor says. That means switching to less labor-intensive crops, or mechanization.


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