Editor's letter: Why we won’t stop making the case for immigration

The clinching argument for immigration is ultimately moral

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The Independent Online

Morning all. As you know, one of the things that marks The Independent out from its rivals is our attitude to immigration. Others say they are in favour, provided it’s the right sort; but are essentially anti. We, however, are essentially positive, and as ever try harder than most to hear all sides of the argument, and to tell the truth. Over the past few weeks, two different sets of stories have shown up this difference.

First there was the tale of Oliver Cameron, whose picture we put on the front page.   A 38-year-old plumber from north London, he suffered kidney failure in December 2012. His Jamaican sister was a perfect match but wasn’t allowed over because Home Office staff said she might not go home straight away. This despite the fact that she has seven children in Jamaica and looks after her elderly mother.

Our story brought attention to the case, and earlier this week James Brokenshire, a Home Office minister, relented and said Mr Cameron’s sister can come in after all. Now he’s trying to raise the funds to pay for her flight over, and we’ll keep you updated. Immigration policy, being bureaucratic, often lacks both common sense and compassion, and I’m glad we did our bit to help a British citizen in need.

Then there was Emily Dugan’s excellent series on migrants who have come to the UK since Poland joined the EU, 10 years ago next week. Often they’re not the builders and plumbers of stereotype, but executives and entrepreneurs who create rather than take jobs. As our accompanying editorial on page 2 of yesterday’s paper argued, we should be glad to have them.

In their TV debates, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage were at cross purposes about immigration. Clegg mainly made the economic case for; Farage mainly made the cultural case against. But as our editorial put it, the clinching argument for immigration is ultimately moral. Migrants tear themselves away from all that is familiar and sacred to them to go in search of a better life for themselves and their children. This deeply human aspiration – which animated my own, Indian, parents – should be encouraged, not criminalised.

And the value of remittances that migrants send home is much bigger than the global aid budget, as well as much better targeted. Managed properly, immigration makes both rich and poor countries richer.

The great battle of the 21st century is not an ideological one between left and right, but a democratic one between open and closed societies, in the face of the threats and opportunities thrown up by globalisation.

Your newspaper – which thinks of immigration in terms of the latter – certainly knows which side it is on. Have a great weekend.