Cameron, Ferguson, and Immigration

David Cameron came up with new ideas about immigration. It’s mainly about cutting EU immigrants off the British welfare system. That includes things like denying child allowances to immigrants whose children live in other EU countries. The reason? Cameron wants these allowances to be spent in Britain, or otherwise they spur demand in the countries of destination. Meanwhile, the UK does welcome people who got good free public education in these countries. Who would compensate them for providing education the British economy benefits from?

But apart from fairness, anti-immigrant ideas have to face economic objections, too. Emerging policies toward immigrants respond to folk xenophobia, but they are fundamentally flawed.

A good example? The Ferguson events in the United States. Obviously, the Michael Brown case couldn’t have done this. It’s just ignited the dissatisfaction with the social role of the black population in the country. It’s not how the events are portrayed, though. The media publish Brown attacking the shop owner and the aftermath of post-verdict nights in Ferguson. That looks like a proof that protests are not legitimate—at least, this is what the public says now.

But how much attention is being devoted to the fundamental causes of disobedience? The black population had been distanced from domestic policy making for 350 years. A 30% income gap between white and black men (equivalent to additional 2.2% unemployment nationwide) and disproportionate incarceration rates come straight from the history. Though not racial anymore, these problems persist across generations and affect the present.

The United States faces the same challenge again. This time it’s the rights of undocumented immigrants from Latin America. The immigrants do not participate in public decision making because, well, if they did, they’d be deported. In terms of civil rights, they’re close to the black population 200 years ago. And the official income gap between white and Latino men is 40% now.

Instead of finding solutions, there’s a fierce resistance even to the attempts to clarify the status of some immigrants, as Obama suggested in November. What does it mean? The immigrants will remain underground, and social tensions will be there for decades.

The United States is not the only country facing this problem. Cameron’s welfare ideas will also lead to immigrants isolated from other residents. Le Pens in France have more radical intentions. You can also look at the problem in Russia:


Russia has one million slaves among 140 million population. Most slaves are undocumented immigrants from Central Asia, with no rights or access to public services. Corruption eradicates their earnings, so immigrant income gaps are higher than in any developed country.

That’s why, apart from talks about tightening international migration and denying small welfare payments, it would be interesting to hear what policy makers think about helping existing immigrants to be part of a brighter future.