Friday, June 10, 2005


One of the areas where churches in Britain have demonstrated a good deal of common endeavour (at least in terms of activists and policy makers) is over the questions of asylum, refugees and migration -- where the Jewish and Christian biblical tradition's open stance towards "sojourners in the land" provides a powerful counter-witness to welathy societies that seek to close the gate behind their capacity to suck up wealth poorer nations and peoples.

The idea that migrants harm "our" way of life and economy is, in any case, nonsense. The next issue of the estimable New Internationalist magazine will look at immigration from a different perspective: that of an African nurse working in a care home in Britain. She tells her story, explains why she is working so far from home, and unpacks the implications for all involved.

You can get a three-month free trial and Peters Projection world map if you take out a subscription to the magazine now, by the way.

New Internationalist points out that according to UK Home Office figures, migrants contribute £2.5 billion to the British economy, and 10 per cent more in taxes and National Insurance than they receive in benefits and public services. Moreover 43 per cent of nurses and 31 per cent of doctors entering the National Health Service were trained outside the UK. Thousands of hospitals would close without them. And the British Hospitality Association has warned that it would have serious difficulties covering cleaning and catering jobs without migrants.

Of course there are many issues of social justice bound up with these statistics. But they give the lie to propaganda from The Daily Mail, Migration Watch and other alarmists who wish to stoke up fear and misunderstanding among the public in order to strengthen an anti-immigration political agenda.

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