Workers on a production line. Photo credit: Dan Law/Press Association. All rights reserved.
The full text and list of signatories to an opinion piece from leading campaign groups:
The publication of the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) final report, establishing the UK’s immigration labour needs after Brexit, is welcome. For Britain to have a successful immigration and asylum system, we need a clearly defined objective.
However, economic labour needs are only half the picture. If we are to take the opportunity to create a new immigration system which works for everyone we must base our approach on values which reflect who we are as a country and why we run things as we do. Values like fairness, respect and community.
There is a consensus that immigration policy needs to be reformed. Our current system results in people who've come to live here from abroad facing confusion and hardship, and the public losing faith. This is no way for Britain to run an immigration system. It is lacking in strategy, but it is also out of kilter with the values which Britain usually prides itself in embodying.
That is why, as leading organisations pushing for immigration reform in the UK, we are today calling for the government to take a new, values-based approach to immigration after Brexit. We believe that, by taking these values as a starting point, we can build an immigration system which enables people who come to Britain from abroad and those born here to live well together as a strong and thriving country.
We therefore call for an immigration system which is:
Optimistic: We believe immigration, properly managed, can make Britain a better place for people to live. It supports a stronger economy, vibrant communities and a rich culture. We want an immigration system which works towards this end – not one which views managing immigration as an exercise in damage limitation.
Humane: Britain is a compassionate country. We should treat everyone who comes here, whether looking for work or safety, with humanity – whether their application to come into the UK is successful or not. Needless cruelty serves no-one and degrades Britain in the eyes of the world.
Evidence-led: Immigration policy should be based on the best available evidence of what works, what Britain needs, and what impact immigration policies have on people and communities. Relying on undeliverable goals only damages public trust and encourages policies which harm people.
Based on the rule of law: the idea that everyone is subject to the law and that the law should be fairly applied is a defining characteristic of Britain’s unwritten constitution. We believe immigration should be no exception. Immigration law should be accessible and easy to navigate. Immigration decisions should be made according to legal judgement – not in the pursuit of politically-driven refusal targets.
Supportive of strong communities: people who come to Britain should be given the tools and support they need to start contributing and participating in their new communities. They should be supported to learn English and find employment, making their community stronger – and communities themselves should be supported with the infrastructure they need.
Our proposal is not radical. It is common sense and based on principles which people widely believe in. It is a different approach. But with some political leadership, we believe a better Britain, with a better immigration system, is possible.
Full list of signatories:
Harriet Ballance Acting Director Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees (AVID)
Sunder Katwala Director British Future
Toni Soni Centre Director Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre
Eiri Ohtani Project Director Detention Forum
Emma Harrison Director IMiX
Satbir Singh Chief Executive Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
Rosario Guimba-Stewart Chief Executive Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network
Aderonke Apata Director Manchester Migrant Solidarity
Wayne Myslik Chief Executive Migrants Resource Centre
Rita Chadha Interim Director Migrants' Rights Network
Hazel Williams National Director NACCOM (No Accommodation Network)
Sally Daghlian Chief Executive Praxis Community Projects
Stephen Hale Chief Executive Refugee Action
Charlie Fraser Director TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network)
Nicolas Hatton Founding Co-chair the3million
Leila Zadeh Executive Director UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group
Maurice Wren Chief Executive Refugee Council