Share |

Unemployment and Immigration Control - II

Part 2 of the series on Racism. For part 1:

(Part 2 of a series on Racism - For Part 1 click)

‘Immigration control’ demands, as a response to economic crises and rising unemployment are not new. In the past and current times, immigration control has been repeatedly debated in many countries with pro-immigration control argument coming from both the reformist-central left and right wing neoliberal circles.

In many of these debates and in how the arguments are put forward, one simple fact is purposefully ignored: Everywhere in the world, in every country, there are already varying levels and types of immigration control laws and procedures. Therefore, the real debate and the arguments put forward are actually not about putting in place ‘immigration control’ policies and laws but to increase the levels of existing restrictions, or in some cases to shut down the borders to immigration. People who want immigration control usually describe a situation as if there no immigration control at all. This helps them to alarm people. 

For example, Ireland has very strict immigration control measures in place. If you are from a non-EU country, you can’t simply move to Ireland and get a job. There are strict restrictions and rules for someone to get a work permit. Spouses of migrant workers don’t have automatically the right to work. To visit Ireland from a non-EU country you must a have an entry visa which can take quite some time to obtain and applicants must provide all sorts of documentation. To qualify for social assistance in Ireland you must be habitually resident in the State on the date you make the application and you must remain habitually resident in the State after you apply. These and similar measures were in place all the time, including during the ‘boom’ years. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work. Ireland is not part of the European free travel zone (Schengen).

As migrant I had first-hand experience of some on these regulations

(Increased) immigration control defenders usually don’t want to see the following factual graphics. These 2 graphs, when put together tell a very important story about immigration and unemployment.

First Graph is the % of unemployment in Ireland between 1983 and 2008.

Between 1983 and late 1990’s there was little inwards migration and the unemployment rate was very high. In fact, many Irish people were still moving to other countries to find a job.

At the height of inward migration between late 1990’s and 2008, when EU and non-EU workers were coming to Ireland the unemployment rate was at its lowest with just over 4%. After 2008 it jumped in a very short time to over 14%. Currently it is just over 11%

Unemployment rose dramatically, starting in late 2007/2008. This was a consequence of the Banking crisis and the government’s actions in order to bail out the banks and private bond holders etc. With the crisis, workers' terms and conditions were significantly reduced.


The second graph was originally published by the Irish Times based on the data provided by Central Statistics Office (CSO).

This graph shows that the number of migrant workers coming to Ireland consistently increased between 2004 and 2007. During the same period unemployment was consistently at its lowest rate of the past 20 years.

After 2007 there was a very significant drop in numbers of incoming migrants.  During this period, not only the incoming numbers were low but also the number of non-Irish leaving Ireland started to increase noticeably.

It also shows that the number migrant workers leaving Ireland had started to increase after 2006/2007. This is consistent with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation numbers on work permit renewals, which, according to the department’s figures were reduced significantly. This means that the workers on a work permit who lost their jobs were leaving Ireland.

Second graph also gives us some clues in terms of how the Irish were emigrating to other countries. The increase started in 2008 right after the banking crisis

‘IMMIGRATION CONTROLISTS’, whether coming from the left or right, never refer to these factual data and the information it provides us. They prefer to have a debate on the issue of immigration based on some vague, intangible, unproven or disproven and often overused arguments.

Many official, academic reports and research papers published in the US, Britain, Germany and other EU countries over the past decades have repeatedly proven that there is no conclusion that immigration is bad for jobs. In fact immigration is good for countries. As we saw from the British reports, the immigrants in Britain contributed net £20bn (€25bn) to the economy between the years 2000 and 2011. In Ireland immigrants have contributed significantly to the economy.

In Germany the migrant workers played a huge role in building a strong industry and a wealthy country.

The US, UK, France, and may other western countries have relied on migrant workers…

So, despite the historic, numerical, social, economic evidence that each time trashes the arguments of immigration control advocates, why does the debate on immigration control always re-appear at some specific times and never goes away?

Could this be because of an underlying-sinister racism, inherent in the system we live in; that feeds of peoples fears, worries, and that enjoys division between workers? Many ordinary people are fed myths and lies by immigration controlists, who want to create a self-serving atmosphere of ‘them and us’.  

Well, given the facts and figures, I can’t think of any other explanations.

Immigration control creates a division among workers and it weakens any fight by the workers agains the bosses or the state. Because of this, the immigration controlists are not friends of the workers.

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

Google Video