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By Philippe Legrain 7 COMMENTS

Immigration is inevitable, so instead of trying to ban it, which causes huge problems, governments should legalise and regulate it instead. That is the gist of my article in today’s FT. Click here to read the full article

Posted 25 Apr 2007 in Blog
  1. Per Kurowski says:

    I could not agree more with Philippe Legrain on that Europe (and the US) need urgently to develop some large scale temporary immigration programs if they want to have a fighting chance of keeping what is happening under reasonable control. If the political price to pay for such programs is along the lines that he suggests in his article in FT “A migrant tax would slash illegal entry into Europe”, April 19, namely an “extra payroll tax on foreign workers” so be it, though only because something is better than nothing.
    Nonetheless, let us be clear that what he is suggesting amounts to a new form of slavery where all the “true” citizens are owners and share into the earnings produced by the migrants, the secondary citizens. It is also equivalent to a handicap system where you place a special tax on the shoulders of foreigners, so that your homeboys can easier compete, which could have of course some long term debilitating effects for your own.
    Much better is a system that looks to really guarantee the temporary aspects of it all. Not only do you have to make certain that the migrants keep up their contacts with their homelands, so as to avoid the risk of any heart-drain but also, that those same homelands manage to get better homes to return to. That you take a percentage of the migrants earnings and place it into a savings account that he will get back when he returns home, sounds much more reasonable than taxing him so that he might remain poor and impeded from returning home.

  2. Bentley says:

    From today’s Guardian “Could I see Arsene walking away from football? Yes, absolutely. Tony Blair’s a big friend of his and it wouldn’t surprise me if one day he follows a career path in that direction. I could quite easily see him going into politics. He’s more than just a football manager” – Tony Adams reckons the world needs more stroppy leaders with controversial immigration policies.

  3. jim says:

    Right. So governments can defend us, tell us what to eat and drink, force us to go to school… but cannot do something as elementary as defend a border. In my opinion journalists have to right to even opine on immigration, secure in your comfy well paid jobs… people unaffected by something have no right to comment on it. Most ordinary British people’s experience of immigration is similar to the American Indians experience of immigration. But nobody cares about white people.
    Ever been to Japan Philippe? Why is everything so mechanized?… could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that they don’t recognise the concept of an immigrant? So companies cannot hire an army of third world workers to do jobs ‘Japanese don’t want to do’, ergo companies innovate and mechanize instead.

  4. Philippe Legrain says:

    Dear Per
    I’m afraid you have misunderstood my argument. I believe in open borders, but given that they are politically unacceptable for now, I propose regulating migration through a tax which can, I hope, be reduced over time, just as the GATT started by converting quotas to tariffs and then reduced them.
    I find it offensive, and untrue, that you claim that what I am proposing amounts to a new form of slavery. It certainly does not. Under the scheme I propose, people who had worked in the EU for enough years would have the right to apply for permanent residency and citizenship, just as migrants do now. And while you are right that the scheme I propose would privilege domestic workers, so too do our current immigration restrictions: they simply do so through arbitrary rules and quotas rather than taxes.
    Nor do I think we need to “guarantee the temporary aspects of it”. First, because if people could move freely (even if working abroad involved paying an extra tax), most would only want to come temporarily, because most people don’t want to leave home forever. Many people will become international commuters, splitting their year between two countries, as one observes now between Britain and Poland. Second, because even though some will choose to settle, I don’t see this as a bad thing. Perhaps you see migrants as temporary slaves; I do not.
    All the best
    Philippe

  5. Anthony says:

    “Most ordinary British people’s experience of immigration is similar to the American Indians experience of immigration. But nobody cares about white people.”
    What a stupid thing to say! Immigrants coming to Britain today are not carrying out genocide against the ‘natives’.
    Most of the arguments that people use to justify their xenophobia were also being used against immigrants a hundred years ago. They are as lame today as they were back then.

  6. Dave says:

    Philippe Legrain,
    “I believe in open borders”
    That’s because you’re an idiot. The escalation of immigration has had a deleterious impact on the quality of life. The UK is already one of the most densely populated countries in the world, twice as densely populated as France, three times as densely populated as Spain, eight times as densely populated as America, and 70 times as densely populated as Canada. While there are relatively empty parts of the UK, the large majority of immigrants move to the area that is already the most densely populated, not only England, but the South East and London.
    Open borders is bad for the environment and for the countryside, fuels the housing crisis and exacerbates traffic congestion. Almost all of Britain’s natural habitats, from the forests to its fenland, have been destroyed over the centuries to make room for people. This will only get worse.
    The Mayor of London has said that London needs houses for another 700,000 people by 2014, all of whom would be immigrants, because British people are leaving London. There is increasing pressure to open up the beloved greenbelts that encircle cities to create room for more housing.
    In other words, to accommodate the record levels of immigration, the people already living here must accept the need to live in smaller houses with smaller gardens to make room for newcomers.
    The same argument applies, mutatis mutandis, to public services. Hospitals are so packed that patients have to routinely wait six hours in accident and emergency. Patients have to wait up to two weeks just to see their GP. Schools in many towns are full to bursting point. It is leading to the Balkanisation of the Britain and the exacerbation of racial and religious tension.
    I think it’s about time that you grew up and stopped masturbating over these adolescent, crypto-Marxist fantasies of yours. Your youthful arrogance is matched only by your preening self-righteousness and contempt for the indigenous working population.

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