The increasing ebb and flow of people across our planet is one of the greatest issues of our time. In 1950s Britain, some 25,000 immigrants arrived here annually and net migration was negligible. Now, immigration into the UK is at an all time high: in the year to September 2014, 624,000 migrants moved to our island and annual net migration, which takes into account those leaving the country, now stands at 298,000, again, a new record.
Nearly seven million immigrants came to the UK when the Blair and Brown Labour governments deliberately and recklessly threw open our borders between 1997 and 2010. Over two million more have arrived since David Cameron came to power and spectacularly broke his promise to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands...No ifs. No buts.” This unprecedented influx has had significant consequences on our economy, our public services, our culture and our environment.
Evidence from the EU and the UK Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee reveals how immigration has driven down wages and led to job losses for British workers. The sheer weight of numbers, combined with rising birth rates (particularly to immigrant mothers) and an ageing population, is pushing public services to breaking point.
To meet demand, we must build one home every seven minutes; we wait longer to see our GP or be treated in hospitals; our children are learning in schools with over-sized classes, or having lessons disrupted by building work as schools are forced to keep expanding.
The British public has every right to be concerned.Surveys consistently show immigration as one of the top three issues for voters. Yet, instead of listening, the old parties have responded with insults and contempt: even our prime ministers have labelled good, decent people ‘closet racists’ and ‘bigots.’
Immigration is not about race; it is about space. Immigrants are not the problem; it is the current immigration system that is broken.
Our current immigration rules ignore the wishes of the British people. They discriminate in favour of EU citizens and against the rest of the world. The system is failing so badly that we cannot even properly identify how many people enter and leave our country.
TO REFORM OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM UKIP WILL:
- Take back control of our borders
- Put a five-year moratorium on immigration for unskilled workers, which will enable the unemployed already living here to find work and those already working to see wage growth
- Introduce an Australian-style points based system to manage the number and skills of people coming into the country, treating all citizens of the world on a fair and equal basis as a welcoming, outward-looking country
- Tackle the problem of sham marriages.
These policies are essential if we are to give our country the breathing space it desperately needs from mass uncontrolled immigration, create harmonious, integrated communities, and catch up on building the essential infrastructure needed to sustain our growing nation.
CONTROLLING OUR BORDERS
We can never control immigration while we continue to be members of the European Union.
Until we leave, we are forced to abide by the EU’s founding, unshakable principle of the ‘free movement of people,’ meaning we cannot prevent the flow of citizens from all EU member states into Britain.
Other political parties will promise to control immigration, but while they continue to support the UK’s membership of the EU, they are not being honest with the electorate. Wholly unable to control EU migration, they can only reduce numbers by slamming the door in the face of people from around the rest of the world.
The old parties already support blatant discrimination against Commonwealth countries, with whom Britain has traditionally had long and friendly relationships. This inequality will at best continue and at worst increase, under their prejudicial immigration policies.
- Increase the numbers of Border Agency staff by 2,500
- Implement new border control technology solutions to ensure all passport and visa holders are counted in and out and to identify over-stayers, including those on student visas.
We will establish a Migration Control Commission to oversee operation of our Australian-style points based system. This commission will operate under a strict mandate to significantly reduce the numbers of people migrating to the UK. It will determine Britain’s economic and social needs annually and then recommend how many immigrants, with what skills required, we will accept into Britain. Because the other parties have failed to control immigration, UKIP will limit highly-skilled work visas to 50,000 per annum, including those from the EU, and apply a moratorium to unskilled and low-skilled labour over the course of the next parliament.
UKIP has no intention of ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ to Britain, as has been suggested. We simply want to control who walks over it, like nearly 200 other countries worldwide.
OUR VISA SYSTEM
A new visa system will be operated on a strict principle of non-discrimination between peoples of all nations applying to work, study and visit the United Kingdom. We will offer five principal visa categories:
Work Visas will be issued to skilled and key workers under our Australian-style points based system.
Visitor visas and entry passes We value and want to encourage tourism, however there are inequalities in the current system, which treats some nationalities more favourably than others. The Migration Control Commission will be charged with finding a system which enables countries with which the UK already has close ties, such as member states of the European Union and the Commonwealth, to establish reciprocal arrangements for visitor visas and term-dated entry passes.
Student visas The international student community makes an important contribution to the UK. Because students are in Britain only on a temporary basis, we will categorise them separately in immigration figures.
We will also:
- Review which educational institutions are eligible to enroll international students and prevent abuse of the student visa system. Students not attending courses will have their visas withdrawn and colleges not reporting absentees will be barred from accepting international students.
- Family reunion visas It is important that British citizens and those with permanent leave to remain here can form legal family relationships with non-British citizens and we will review the family union system to ensure this basic principle is respected and applies equally to all. However, our key aim is to control immigration, so we will abolish the EEA family permit scheme and reinstate the primary purpose rule, meaning foreign nationals marrying British citizens will have to prove that the primary purpose of their marriage is not to obtain British residency.
- Asylum visas We will comply fully with the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees; speed up the asylum process; and seek to do so while tackling logjams in the system for those declined asylum status. We will continue to honour our obligations to bona fide asylum seekers.
ACCESS TO WELFARE AND THE NHS
Save for current applications, approved asylum cases and family reunions, we will cease grant of ‘Permanent Leave to Remain’ status. Those on work visas may apply for British citizenship once they have been here for five years.
We will revoke the British citizenship of those who have obtained it by fraud or deception and remove those who have obtained entry into Britain by this means.
We take the view that British citizens who choose to fight alongside terrorist organisations effectively abdicate their rights to citizenship. We will amend the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 to make enlistment in violent armed groups or transnational terror organisations a crime and we will seek a means to revoke their citizenship and prevent their repatriation.
There will be no amnesty for illegal immigrants.
We will increase the number of immigration compliance and enforcement teams and review current holding and accommodation arrangements for illegal immigrants.
Foreign criminals will not be granted a visa to enter the UK
Resident migrants who commit crimes resulting in custodial sentence will have their visa revoked and they will be subject to a deportation order. They will be detained until they are removed from the UK.
ENDING THE EU FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE
Our new immigration policies will begin when we confirm our intention to leave the EU with an ‘out’ vote in a national referendum.
Any European Union citizen who is resident in the UK at the time of the referendum will be permitted to remain and work here. They will be able to enjoy the benefits of the UK as before and have the opportunity to apply for UK citizenship after five years.
The British people accept immigrants and are among the most welcoming and tolerant people in the world. UKIP’s policies recognise the new openness in our world and the positive benefits controlled immigration has brought and can continue to bring to our nation.
Only UKIP’s policies have, at their heart, sustainability, ethics and fairness. It is only by pursuing these policies and introducing an Australian-style points based system, that we can all be confident immigration will benefit Britain.