i Editor's Letter: A more measured debate


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The Independent Online


I wish that we could have a more measured debate on immigration in Britain. I wish positions were less entrenched and politics could be removed from the issue. Naive, I know. Even to raise the topic in public invites charges of racism. There is no need for a man named Stefano, son of a first-generation immigrant, to explain my view of the rich benefits immigration has brought to this country; a subject addressed with eloquence by our columnist Amol Rajan last week.

And yet: Britain’s growing soft touch reputation in this area, our woolly immigration legislation, and the amateur way in which the Border Agency has been managed have left Britain in a collective no man’s land that only serves as an excuse for extremist agendas.

One only has to come through a UK airport to know the system is not working. Spare a thought for visitors off an overnight flight having to endure up to two hours to get through passport control with the joys of baggage claim still to come. Even the EU passport lines can descend into chaos. Why? There is no getting away from the politics. It’s the cuts, stupid. We can all pretend that we can cut, cut and cut again — like the Border Agency over the past few years — and that there will be no effect on the end product, but we know it’s not true. The Border Agency does not have the staff numbers, let alone planned new technology, to fulfil its obligation to help protect us from illegal immigrants, let alone terrorists .

Instead of buck-passing, would it not be refreshing to see Theresa May, or anyone else in the upper reaches of Government admit this and invest serious resource and money in doing something to fix a system that is clearly broken.