Immigration policy without humanity?

Author:Lokongo, Antoine

America is planning to invite 600,000 foreign workers (mainly in information technology) in the next few years, Germany already has 25,000 places on offer, and Britain is planning to follow suit. The "best talents" of the developing world are to be gulped up by the West -- can we ever win?

Barbara Roche, the British immigration minister, said recently that the time was right for a debate on the future of immigration policy and how it might better serve the interests of the United Kingdom. "Immigration policy," she said, must protect and promote our national interest, both economically and nationally, and Britain will only go for the brightest and best talents."

This is a dear recognition of the talents of many of the migrants. Sonic people may even say it is a good sign for policy makers to no longer see migrants as "economic racketeers" out to sponge on Britain and other rich countries but useful people, many of whom are highly intelligent and who can make enormous contributions to the host countries.

I think the debate is long overdue, as Nick Hardwick, the chief executive of the Refugee Council UK said, and that Britain should have already examined how best to use the skills of the refugees already in the UK, particularly in the National Health Service (NHS) where there is an acute shortage of nurses and doctors.

Whereas it takes at least seven years and [pound]200,000 to train a doctor from scratch in the UK, a refugee doctor already in Britain can be prepared and converted to practise in a few months at a cost of only [pound]3,000.

But by basing the debate solely on Britain's "national interest" which will be served by allowing in a few immigrants with the best IT skills, the tone of the debate, as it is set, sounds very "narrow" and "self-centred".

The debate has to take into account the human dimensions of the immigration policy as well as the West's international obligations to protect asylum seekers fleeing persecution, the victims of the same West's arms trade, as well as environmental refugees from all over the world who are the victims of the depletion and cruel exploitation of the natural resources of their mother countries.

Of course, skilled migrants from Asia, Latin America and Africa seeking a better life elsewhere will nor hesitate to take up the offer at any salary. But they must also know that they will just be used for cheap labour and as tools for the West's besoughted "economic boom".

This is very well illustrated by...

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