Scrap immigration target and abolish cap on work visas for skilled migrants, ministers told

Think tank proposes 'two lane' visa system in which free movement with some countries is maintained

Monday 14 January 2019 00:57
Comments
Last month Sajid Javid confirmed the new white paper on immigration will ditch the commitment to reduce net migration to 'tens of thousands'
Last month Sajid Javid confirmed the new white paper on immigration will ditch the commitment to reduce net migration to 'tens of thousands'

The government should scrap its immigration targets because the current policy inflicts “enormous economic self-harm”, according to a right-wing think tank.

A report from the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) said it was wrong to focus on overall numbers, as the public are concerned about types of immigration rather than volumes.

The IEA also called for the abolition of the cap on work visas for highly skilled migrants and the “working limits” on foreign student visas, saying the current policy discriminates against students from less wealthy backgrounds.

Instead it proposes a “two lane” visa system in which free movement with some countries is maintained, while an uncapped version of the current system is introduced for the rest of the world after Brexit.

Author Dr Kristian Niemietz, head of political economy at the IEA, said the current immigration policy represents the “worst of all worlds” in some ways.

“It inflicts enormous economic self-harm, because it is needlessly restrictive and bureaucratic in some respects – but at the same time, it fails to genuinely address the public’s concerns and anxieties.

“The main reason for this is that in debating immigration, we are not being honest with ourselves.”

The report found that many types of immigration are “widely accepted or even popular” among “left-wingers and economic liberals” and conservatives and ‘nativists”’.

“But mentioning the word ‘immigration’ immediately triggers a culture war, where one side sees bigots and racists everywhere, while the other side feels sneered at by an arrogant metropolitan elite,” added Dr Niemietz.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

He continued: “A close look at the survey data shows that when people claim to oppose ‘immigration’, it is really only specific types of immigration that they have in mind.

“They do not really care all that much about how many people come here. They care a lot more about who comes here, and why.

“It is therefore possible to liberalise immigration rules substantially in some respects, whilst also accepting the public’s concerns and objections.”

Home secretary Sajid Javid announced last month that his new post-Brexit migration plan would attempt to reduce net migration to “sustainable levels”, apparently marking the end of the “tens of thousands” target championed by Theresa May.

The Independent has run the Drop the Target campaign for over two years.

Additional reporting by PA

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in