Migration in the UK: Moving beyond numbers

David Robinson

Summary

Unprecedented numbers of migrants have arrived into the UK since the early 1990s. Heated debate has surrounded this new phase of immigration. The government has been accused of loosing control of the borders and stories have abounded about ‘bogus’ asylum seekers and economic migrants gaining access to resources at the expense of British citizens. The political response has been to talk tough on numbers and securing the border. This rhetoric fails to acknowledge that migration is a reality of the networked society we now live in and that large numbers of migrants will continue to arrive in the UK. The real challenge is managing the process of migration effectively in order to minimise the impact on all concerned. To this end, three new policy priorities are proposed: ending the administrative detention of children for immigration control; tackling the destitution of asylum seekers and refugees; and helping local communities to manage the challenges posed by new immigration.