Analysis of a newspaper article
In May 5, 2008, it was published in the BBC UK News that the UK Border Agency plans to increase places in immigration detention centers by 60% or about 1,300 to 1,500 additional places. Brook House near Gatwick Airport, New Wings at Harmondsworth, Dover and Oakington are present places of immigration detention centers. With the increase of these centers, the government hopes to fasten the pace and increase the number of illegal immigrant removals.
Liam Byrne, the border and immigration minister, reports that the agency removes an immigration offender every eight minutes but the goal is “to remove more and remove faster.” Damian Green, the Shadow immigration minister, opines that the government policy is a failure saying “If there were fewer delays in the system, there would be less need for new detention capacity.”
On the other hand, the Refugee Council, an organization that works with asylum seekers and refugees, were disappointed with this news saying “These are people who are detained on arrival, who have committed no crime, and who are often extremely vulnerable, yet who are locked up in circumstances where there is little access to information and not knowing how long they will be imprisoned.” As of the publication of the article, the UK Border Agency has removed 4,200 foreign national prisoners from the UK in 2007 and deported a total of 63,140 illegal immigrants.
In December 12, 2008, a related article was published in the BBC UK News with an opening statement “Inspectors have delivered a damning report on an immigration detention centre, saying it has “lost direction and purpose” and inmates feel unsafe. The article reports on the findings of Chief prison inspector Anne Owers after an inspection in the Oakington Immigration Reception Centre, near Cambridge.
The following information was found ‘depressing and disturbing’ as quoted from Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council:
1. The general attitude of staff is distant and reactive. Neither staff nor managers appeared to take an interest in the individual circumstances and concerns of detainees. As an example, they appeared unaware of the fact that they had been holding a Chinese man for nearly two years.
2. Accommodation at the centre lacked investment and was described as “tired and often uncomfortable.”
3. The HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP) reports half of the detainees felt unsafe. The use of force had increased and was inadequately monitored. Incidents of self-harm among detainees had increased significantly during the previous 12 months.
Covey expressed her utmost concern for the detainees who have no access to independent welfare support. She says, “It is unacceptable to lock people up simply asking for safety in the UK, and then in a place which is clearly incapable of looking after them properly.”
In a positive note, the article also reported that security at the centre had improved, the number of escapes declined, health care was described as generally appropriate and racist incidents occurred rarely and were treated seriously. In defense for the UK Board Agency, a spokesperson said “We take any concerns about the welfare of our detainees extremely seriously. Our removal centers play a vital role in enforcing immigration rules and we are determined to make sure they are well run, safe and secure. We are pleased that the report notes the improvements we have made and the good level of healthcare we provide to detainees. We will be considering the recommendations very carefully.”
In synthesis, the two articles presented a balance report on UK immigration issues. It carefully presented the views of the UK Board Agency administration and the Refugee Council. In general, it tackles the problems on immigration laws, detainment system and the immigrants’ welfare.
In the light of the foregoing information, this paper will attempt to evaluate the article with equality and diversity as the general theme and globalization, demographic transition and population growth as basic underpinning theory for mass migration.
Cause of Migration
In an article written by Sachs (2008), he identified two eras of modern economic growth. The first 100 years is the era of economic divergence where the production and income between the richest regions and the rest of the world has a wide gap. This era is when rich nations exploit the poor nations’ natural and human resources. It is in this era when the colonial system of labor importation and exportation brought about the ethnic mix in many national populations today. This practice occurred throughout the world – the Europeans travel not only to discover and colonize areas of Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and the New World but ship large numbers of laborers around the empires of Europe. Over the course of more than three hundred years, between 1503 and 1835, millions of native Africa people were brought to the New World to work, usually on European plantations. (Weinstein: 2005) It was the commencement of migration, of diversity, and the concern on equality among and between different nationalities in one state.
The second era was termed by Sachs as economic convergence that is rooted in the global spread of literacy, Western science, the modern technologies of transport and communications and the political ideas of self-determination and economic development as core national objectives. It offers the realistic possibility of ending extreme poverty and narrowing the vast inequalities with and between countries. (2008:11)
Unfortunately, there are still places that will be left behind by the global economic growth, places that at present are caught in a vicious circle of poverty. Without external assistance to help these countries, adverse consequences may happen like war, the spread of epidemic diseases, displaced population and mass illegal migration. (p 12) In search of a better life, immigrants seek employment in wealthy nations and face the risk of being denied entry, deported and detained in a foreign land.
Effects of Migration
In a study conducted by Dustmann, Glitz and Frattini in 2008, the fear on the adverse effects of migration in labour market opportunities were discussed and these are:
1. Immigrants may change the skill structure of the receiving country;
2. Workers that are most similar to immigrants in their skill composition may lose while workers that possess different skills may gain;
3. If capital is supplied perfectly elastically, then migration does have wage effects, but these are negative for workers who compete with immigrants and positive for workers who do not.
4. Alternative adjustment mechanisms besides wages that may play an important part in an economy’s response to immigrant inflows. If we allow for multiple industries and (some) fixed output prices through, for instance, trade, then migration, even if changing the skill structure of the economy, may not affect wages at all, but be absorbed through changes in the industry structure and the output mix.
5. Even if the industry structure remains unchanged, an alteration in the skill mix induced by immigration may be absorbed at constant wages by endogenous changes in production technologies. (2008:1)
In the European Social Survey, this is a concern among residents in receiving countries. The data gathered suggests that almost 38% of UK residents agree with the statement that immigration lowers wages in the receiving country. Breaking down responses by educational background shows, however, that it is mainly the lower skilled who are concerned about detrimental wage effects through migration. Almost 50% of individuals with no qualification and over 40% of the low qualified fear that immigration may reduce wages, while this concern is shared by only about 20% of the highly qualified.
On the other hand, in a study by Dustmann, Fabbri, Preston, and Wadsworth, it has been concluded that:
There are realistic routes by which immigration can affect labour market outcomes but the absence of any long run impact is by no means implausible or inconsistent with theory for the case of an open economy with a large heterogeneous traded goods sector such as the UK. The nature of the impact has to be an empirical question to be resolved through analysis of evidence. (2003:48)
Hence, immigration was not proven by strong evidence that it has significant effect on employment or wages of existing workers. Their study is consistent with the results from international research. It even suggests that immigration enhances wage growth.
The cause and effects of migration would seem that they are inevitable. It invokes the human mind a question on the structure of the present and future society. Migration has contributed significantly to the creation of a single, world-level society. (Weinstein: 227) How ready is the UK to accept this?
In the advent of globalization vis-à-vis the trend in immigration, UK faces cultural diversity. Weinsten explains that cultural diversity arises from differences in normative system. These consist of the rules and principles that define acceptable belief and practice. The most general and abstract parts of these systems are values, our broad standards of goodness, truth and beauty. Norms are specific rules that express prevailing values, ranging from table manners to criminal and religious codes. Every culture and subculture, from the simples to the most complex, has normative systems and all are distinctive to one degree or another. Ethnic, national, religious, regional, and other forms of diversity are based largely on these distinctions. They can be a source of fascination and admiration, as people of different backgrounds learn to understand and appreciate the variety of human experience. They also can be tremendous irritants that inflame hatred and violence. (Weinsteinn : 228)
Summary and Conclusion
The articles discussed the concern of the UK Border with the detainees in the immigration centre. Upon further analysis, it raises the question on the readiness of UK to face the changes brought about by globalization and the present and future trend in immigration. It implies adaptability of the local government and residents of the UK to utilize as leverage the presence of migrants. Policy review and its realignment with generally accepted human rights principles is necessary to safeguard the interests of the vulnerable immigrants. On the other hand, review of state’s policy on labor and education has to be undertaken to assure the local residents, especially the low-skilled workers, of their job and fair wage distribution.
List of References
BBC News (2008) Extra immigrant detention places available from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/7408121.stm> (13 December 2008)
BBC News (2008) Immigration Centre is unsafe. available from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/7777270.stm> (13 December 2008)
Dustmann, C., Glitz, A. & Frattini, T. (2003) The Labour Market Impact of Immigration Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration. Drayton House, 30 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AX : Center for Research and Analysis Mirgration
Dustmann, C., Fabbri, F., Preston, I. & Wadsworth, J. (2008) The local labour market effects of immigration in the UK. Home Office
Sachs, J. (2008). ‘A User’s Guide to the Century.’ The National Interest 96, 8 – 15
Weinstein, J. (2005). Social and Cultural Change: Social Science for a Dynamic World. United States of America : Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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