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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 May, 2004, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Migration: Your views
Would-be migrants to Britain awaiting appointments
We discussed global migration in our weekly phone-in programme Talking Point.

International migration affects every country and is now at the centre of a growing debate.

With only days to go before the biggest enlargement in the EU's history, Tony Blair has ordered a "top-to-bottom" review of the UK's immigration system.

He said that new restrictions on the right to welfare benefits will help tackle abuses.

But Tory leader Michael Howard in response accused the PM of acting in a "blind panic".

About 3% (175 million people) of the world's population live outside their country of birth.

Is Tony Blair right to review immigration? Is enough being done in the UK and around the world? Is better management possible?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your comments:

This topic was suggested by David Alexander from the UK:
Is Tony Blair right to review the immigration policy?

The comment by Claudette from France, in my opinion, hits the nail on the head. The countries that have a high immigration, like Britain or France must sooner or later realize that a finite limit exists on how many can realistically be absorbed into the culture. Yes immigration should be reviewed often and as necessary.
Charles, Montreal, Canada

I wonder why more people don't migrate from this country - it is almost impossible to afford a place to live in these days.
Gjf, Cobham UK

People turn to move or migrate because they want to have a better life . I want to migrate now, because I want to have a better life for myself and my children in future. People move to America and the new world to be free, to have a better life. I don't see anything wrong with that.
Kwame Adjei, Tema, Ghana

Tony Blair should bring back national service
Susan, Seattle USA
Problem with Immigration in the UK! I am English and when I return to the UK I feel like a immigrant. The system is so politically correct and frightened to offended the minority it forgets about the majority. Immigrants flock the UK, taking advantage of the Health Care Systems and Social Security not to mention housing and education. Tony Blair should bring back national service that should put a curb on immigration. How many immigrants are fighting for our country? Yet they reap the benefits!
Susan, Seattle USA

Tony Blair, by now master of deception, is just realising the benefits of xenophobia: By 'reviewing' the immigration issue he can blame the UK immigrants on all his and his government's failings. Never mind that the majority of immigrants are desperate to work and live a normal life. Of course it them that are the problem!
Jason Robinson, Dublin, Ireland.

Simple, no benefits (housing, dole, child) for immigrants until after a year of paying national insurance.
Paul Weaver, London, UK

We have to be careful not to damage local cultures and values
Gavin Harris, Ebbw Vale
I think the key word here is 'culture'. Many people living here have strong ethnic cultures that will never really change. We have to be careful not to damage local cultures and values with foreign influences. If we can protect our culture I feel the British people would welcome the extra influx of migrants who come to Britain to live and help our economy flourish.
Gavin Harris, Ebbw Vale

I do not need Mr Blair to assure me that I am not a racist for being concerned about immigration into the UK. The trouble is that he, his ministers and his party have attempted for so long to smother rational debate by shouting 'racism' at every opportunity. It's time this 'weapon of mass intimidation' was put to rest, but old habits die hard and I have no doubt that, once the headlines fade, every attempt will be made to denigrate those who wish to discuss not just immigration per se but also the current scale of immigration.
David, Leeds, UK

This appears to be another example of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Mr Blair and his government should have done this years ago. We already have a situation were there are an unknown number of illegal immigrants in the country who have just disappeared. The policy should be very simple. If they do not have the correct papers or are found to have entered the country illegally, they should be sent back to where they came from without any delay. The open door policy, this country operates must stop and stop now.
Bridget Simmonds, Chatham, Kent

These are not war-torn, hell-holes but nations who are on the up
Sheila, UK

What makes everyone think that the new EU members' citizens will all be flooding to the UK anyway? The reason they want to join is to improve conditions at home. These are not war-torn, hell-holes but nations who are on the up and membership of the EU will help facilitate this. Look at Ireland and how their economy has improved by being part of the EU. It is a massive step to leave behind your culture, home, family and friends. I believe we may see a few immigrants turning up here, but not the floods which are being predicted.
Sheila, UK

Pregnant women should not be allowed into the country. Travelling to another country simply to gain citizenship for your baby should not be tolerated. This puts a burden on the host country which is not fair. The resources of a society should be used for its members not interlopers who simply want to take advantage of a system without contributing to it.
Anna, UK

As a public sector trade unionist I can tell you immigrants are not a burden on public services. Far from it: immigrants make up a high proportion of public service workers, especially in the NHS. Without the work they do people couldn't be treated, transported, housed or taught. It's about time we show some honesty and decency and acknowledge this contribution, and start treating our fellow citizens with some respect. How much is this debate really about politicians trying to shift the blame for under funding and privatisation onto some convenient scapegoats?
Ben Drake, York, UK

Only those who can trace their ancestry back to before the Roman invasion have any right to moan about immigration. We are a much richer nation for the diverse peoples we have. It's funny that those who don't want others to come here also believe that no-one should object to them going and living anywhere they want abroad - indeed they expect to be welcomed and that everyone will speak English to them...
Roy Sheward, Walsall, UK

The government has shown a true inversion of values by being too open-handed on new immigrants and the benefits they may draw
Charles, São Paulo

The government has shown a true inversion of values by being too open-handed on new immigrants and the benefits they may draw, despite never having contributed a penny. Contrast this generosity with the fact that hundreds of thousand of British state pensioners living overseas receive pensions with no cost of living adjustments as from the date of retirement or moving, despite having contributed with annual adjustments to their contributions during a lifetime. Not only are they condemned to penury in this way but they also have no access to the UK health system, unless they go there. The government does not deny the injustice of this discrimination but cynically says that it would be too expensive to correct and has staunchly opposed all legal measures.
Charles, São Paulo, Brazil

I have grown up with migration and seen the progress achieved. Countries are enriched by migrants who want to fit in and enjoy the benefits. Countries could also be white-anted by migrants who do not want to fit in and who have inflexible ideas about maintaining religious and cultural differences.
Geoff, Australia

Personally I have no problem with immigration per se - however from a policy point of view people must bear in mind that whilst the UK economy is currently relatively buoyant - it may not always be so. The prospect of 21st Century migration and a 1980s stile recession surely spell social tensions of a high order.
Andy H, Gloucester, UK

Why is it that Tony Blair has accepted the migration of thousands from the new EU states, yet France, Germany and the majority of member States have placed caveats restricting access for seven years? The reason is I would suggest, is that we are an easy touch and all the restrictions he 'intends' to place, providing Cherie agrees (considering her stance on Human Rights), is too little too late. Stop migration now until we have a feasible system to cater for this influx.
Ken Collins, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, England

Anybody who believes what Blair is saying must be a fool. Everybody should know that he will say restrictions on benefits will be put in place but the reality will be that no change will happen, more money will be spent on benefits and Labour will just lie their way out of it as always. I just hope the electorate wakes up to this government's deceit soon.
Stuart, Romford, UK

It seems to be a good distraction from other issues and may win him a few votes
Terry, London

Tony Blair is right to review immigration. But he would have been right to have done it in 1997 also. This subject only comes up when he's under pressure on other fronts - it seems to be a good distraction from other issues and may win him a few votes. Only a short while ago there was a lot of back-slapping in government circles at how good they were in managing migration. Now that's been exposed as a sham, the government's language on the issue has become more severe. The best place to start on this subject is to speak honestly; there's been a characteristic lack of that over the past six years.
Terry, London

There is nothing wrong with immigration provided it fits in with the needs of the country. Many of the current immigrants are relatively untrained manual workers with no knowledge of local rules, standards and regulations. The problem is of course that many manual jobs have been exported abroad where labour is cheaper and hence there is no work for them here when they arrive. No work leads in turn to the creation of ghettos and increased lawlessness in an attempt to survive, and this then leads to racial tension and violence.
David Priddy, Slough, UK

Tony Blair stated that migrants that work will add to the economy and pay taxes. Many existing migrants come here to work and send the money home - that does not add to our economy. The tax they pay will hardly cover any NHS bills. And answer me this, how come the working migrants will be allowed housing when many people in this country aren't and there is a housing shortage. Once again, it doesn't add up.
Barry, UK

Too little, too late
John C, Bath

Too little, too late. It was blindingly obvious that May 1 would be the catalyst for migration, and with less than a week to go, the government takes action. The main problem remains that the government and the judiciary are both at odds, and we are saddled with the human rights act. Until we can make tough but fair laws, have a judiciary that upholds them, and act swiftly and decisively on all applications, we will have an uncontrolled mess. Oh yes, and a number of the new migrants will get a low paid job, and then once they have a council house, go onto benefits. So much for Tony's crackdown!
John C, Bath, England

A few years ago I was teaching at a school in Sussex, and my class did a project where they all traced back their family trees for three generations. Not one of the students had all their relatives born in England. Without exception, they were all closely descended from migrants. I suspect this is also true for most of the people on this site moaning about migrants.
Neil K, Oxford

Mass immigration should be stopped altogether in the UK and bogus asylum seekers should be deported back to their country of origin.
John, Burnley, UK

I feel more at home in a country I wasn't born in or brought up in
Sanchita Mendez, Manila, Philippines
I wonder if anyone has had the experience of migrating, not for economic reasons, but cultural ones. I have had the experience of feeling more at home in a country I wasn't born in or brought up in but studied in for two years. I want to live by the culture of this European country I lived in for two years and have no intention of bringing in beliefs and cultures of the place I was born in to it. I wonder if there are any other migrants like myself who feel at peace and at home in a country not of their birth - migrants who feel alien in their own country?
Sanchita Mendez, Manila, Philippines

The primary force behind most migration from the so-called Third World countries is the search for greener pastoral land. Information technologies and air transportation make it much easier to realise the dream. But it makes 'flight' an easier choice than to 'fight' when the homeland is bad from natural or man-made problems. No experience to be gained from resolving problems at home or aboard because they are constantly searching for elsewhere. Wherever they go their bad habits simply follow.
Matthew, Charlotte, USA

Just as migrants have a right to search for a better life, people of a particular country have a right to protect their way of life from too much foreign influence.
Claudette, France

More political stability issues should be addressed with more emphasis on local ethnic issues and corruption
Emmanuel Berinyuy, Belgium

The strongest weapons with which migration can be managed are firstly, the home governments must revamp job creation strategies by undressing the immediate post colonial policies which still linger, and seek for modern strategies. Secondly, more political stability issues should be addressed with more emphasis on local ethnic issues and corruption. These are the hidden foundations for most political turmoil in most areas of the Third World. These measures might limit migration, but will never stop it.
Emmanuel Berinyuy, Belgium

Well, I come from a country that produced immigrants. We had a difficult situation here. Some were forced to leave and some left Kosovo to work because there was no way to find a job here. If there were no political problems peoples would still be working here. I am a student. If once I have my diploma I can't find a job over here, I'll also try migrating.
Ahmet Murati, Gjilan, Kosovo

Britain is already overpopulated. We have a high population density, are building 40,000 homes per annum and are facing a looming power crisis in a decade. We are too small a country to manage large scale immigration irrespective of the rights and wrongs behind the issue.
Bob, Mills, West Lothian, Scotland

In my opinion it's not migration that is the problem, it is integration. When are we in the West going to stop questioning the right to have ours? If people will not integrate and learn the language then we need to close the doors. I am sick to death of all the whining coming from the Third World. Clean up the corruption, educate your people and provide some means of prosperity!
John, Omaha, USA

Migration creates problems when migrants fail to integrate
Ian, Geneva

Migration creates problems when migrants fail to integrate. In Britain, the seemingly well-intended policy of multiculturalism is largely to blame for this, because it treats migrants as if they will never progress beyond the status of 'ethnic minority' and that they are incapable of accommodating the local ways of doing things.
Ian, Geneva, Switzerland

Great nations grow when they embrace others who are different.
Penny, USA

As like what most people have said, I agree that there can be no solution to completely eradicate migration. We can, however, manage it.
Jasmine Kristin Wong, Brunei

Every country can benefit from immigration. However, it is the privilege of the host to select whom to receive. Blindly taking in anyone who makes it to our shores is national destruction by default.
Rune Torsvik, Bergen, Norway


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