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John Davies, France "Migrants are also a political force"
Craig Nelson, USA "Countries should question using an endless supply of cheap labour to make ourselves rich"
Dumitru Potop, France "The labour market should be more open between Western and Eastern Europe"
Darren Parmenter, Spain" In the UK you mention immigration and people immediately talk about race and racism"
Hany Mekkawi, Germany "Change should be made from within"
Yevgeni Garif, USA "The United Kingdom should keep its doors open as wide as possible"
The Journey: Should the west open the gates
Should rich countries open the door to more migrants?

Hardly a day goes by without a headline-grabbing story of would-be immigrants making daring attempts to reach a rich country.

Whether it is Kurds aiming for Italy, Chinese going to Britain or Moroccans heading for Spain, the poor, it seems, are knocking at the door in increasing numbers.

Many think only more immigration can sustain prosperity in developed countries, as populations age and labour becomes scarce. A recent study from the UK Home Office concluded that migration was good for economic growth.

But others see immigration as a threat to their jobs, their security and even to their own identity. It is a subject where politicians fear to tread.

Should rich countries open their doors more widely to new immigrants? Should their politicians be bolder in making the case for more immigration? Have you ever tried to migrate? What was your experience?

We have been discussing this issue on Talking Point ON AIR, the phone-in programme of the BBC World Service and BBC News Online. If you want to add to this debate email us using the form below.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

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  • Read what you have said since the programme
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    Your reaction

    Your comments since the programme

    When people are clinging on to the sides of ferries and taking whatever means necessary to get here, it would be more responsible of us to examine their motives and to see if we can help the countries from which they are fleeing. I'm all for a world with no borders, but I think that's the point.
    Chris, London, UK

    I work in an employment agency in Southampton, supplying food production companies. There is currently zero unemployment in Hampshire, and no one is willing to work for the minimum wage, as they can earn more. My customers cannot afford to pay more as the British consumer is unwilling to pay a higher price for its food. There are currently 100,000 unfilled vacancies in food production in the UK. The affluent British do not want these jobs. Economic immigrants do. I would like to employ many many more, but the crazy immigration laws do not allow me to supply what my customers, and ultimately the UK public, wants.
    Pete Sanger, Portsmouth UK

    I believe that whether a country allows immigrants should not be based upon 'race' or how much money the prospective migrant has, but upon population density - ie whether the country has space to accommodate the people. Britain is an overcrowded area, for example we have worked out that if all the land in England was split equally between all the people in it, then each person would have a square of land 50 metres on a side, which does not seem like much land to me. Many people have confused the issue of immigration with racism, particularly a certain 'British national party' when actually what we have to consider is whether we can grow enough food on the land to feed everybody. No amount of money will keep you from starving if there is too little land on which to grow your food.
    Formvision2001, Wiltshire, UK

    You would have been very surprised by the welcoming cultures of the poor people you disgrace now, if things had gone in the reverse
    Dejen Abitew, Ethiopia

    One thing must be clear, I think, for those opposing the idea of 'opening their doors' to immigrants. You have to put a much stronger influence on your respective governments not to intervene in the political agenda of the poor nations. And when they have to deal with their poor counterparts let them be genuine, not blind to unfair advantages which are creating worse political unrest in African and other poor nations, which ultimately ends up pushing a huge number of immigrants to seek refuge. At this point it is only stupid to think of those poor children of the globe as if they come against your jobs, security or the like. But what about their rights to take shelter wherever on the globe? You would have been very surprised by the brotherly and welcoming cultures of the poor people you disgrace now, if things had gone in the reverse.
    Dejen Abitew, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Immigration is beneficial as long as a nation is not too generous with its social programmes. For the majority of US history, immigrants had two options when they arrived here. They could either work hard, or starve. They chose to work and therefore built our nation. Almost all immigrants that come to America have a tremendous work ethic. Unfortunately our culture prevents them from successfully passing it on to their kids.
    Jeff Cobb, Chicago, USA

    There is a continued debate about the treatment of asylum seekers and the tolerance of other races. In this debate we are told that we should be more tolerant to other races coming to join our multicultural society. How can we say this when we can't even be tolerant of one of our own native cultures. By this I mean the Gypsy 'race'. We are told we should tolerate the cultures and ways of foreign races (something I would whole-heartedly agree with) and at the same time we refuse to accept the gypsy way of life. Instead we continually move them on from 'our back yards' whilst making no provision for where they should move on to. I say this having witnessed the moving on of a gypsy group from a local leisure centre car park. I wonder, had a group of asylum seekers camped down in the car park, would they have brought the bailiffs in to move them on. I think not (and rightly so). If we want to make all cultures welcome, maybe we should start by accepting a few of our own.
    Steven Beckett, Woking England

    I do not see why any country should be forced to allow the dilution of its way of life
    J Siddon, UK

    I do not see why any country should be forced to allow the dilution of its way of life and the character of its people by allowing others to enter at will. How can we preserve our individuality if too many different races try to exist and live 'cheek by cheek'? No, let those who wish to improve their way of life do this through the democratic process at home. We are already an overcrowded island. Other countries like Australia have plenty of space.
    J Siddon, Chesterfield UK

    Immigration is a delicate argument like racism. The continent of Africa is the rich one with most of the world's natural resources but at the same time it is the poor one economically in the world, and a lot of African people have emigrated to developed countries. I think that the developed countries are cleverly keeping these undeveloped countries in this condition, not only to rob their resources but also to rob the manpower of those people when they immigrate. The people in these economically poor countries are suffering with war, disease and in some cases even without water to drink. But at the same time those people are well armed with modern weapons which are produced and sold by those developed countries, which are accepting the immigrants from the same countries. So I think immigration in this modern era is wanted by the rich and developed countries.
    Thilepan, Napoli, Italy

    When I was growing up in England, 'British' virtues were typified by POWs. By pluck, cunning, bribery, luck and ingenuity, British POWs outwitted authority, guard dogs and barbed wire, and escaped to England. Today, illegal immigrants must do exactly the same thing, and such is their admiration of this country that they are prepared to risk death to get here. They are exactly the sort of people we need.
    DominiConnor, London

    We are currently living in a global world where the only way forward for development of free trade is discouraging and getting rid of trade barriers between countries. Trade comes with civilisation and therefore, just as commodities should not be hindered from one border to another so should human capital. For everything we plan and do is meant for the betterment of human life. Therefore let God's people wander the whole planet with no hindrance. Free movement of goods and peoples should be emphasised by the World Trade Organisation.
    Bob Kirenga, Den Haag, The Netherlands

    My home country, USA, is sadly lagging far behind Britain in the tolerance stakes
    Daniel Curnutte, England

    I feel as if the issues of asylum seekers and immigration have become confused. They are two different things. I am an immigrant from the United States and I feel that I live in an enlightened country which has truly managed to absorb and grow based on the diversity of culture. From my own observations, the overall effect of these migrants seems to be positive and most seem hardworking assets to the community. It is by alienating migrants that we run the risk of creating a group of people who do not feel part of Britain and will see no need to contribute. My home country USA is sadly lagging far behind Britain in the tolerance stakes.
    Daniel Curnutte, London, England

    When a survey has proven that most migration to the developed countries has only brought more economic gains, it is incredible how people still can say that migrants are a liability to their developed country. Thus, one then wonders if it is an economic concern or a prejudice lurking within. It is not easy dealing with the system for migrants or even a genuine worker wanting to live outside one's country. First the West needs to educate the people before you can get them to accept other nationalities into their country.
    Geeta Thuraisingam, Groningen, Holland (Malaysia)

    One African country alone in the midst of that large continent has twice the population of the UK. India has a billion people. Obviously Europe, already a densely populated region cannot absorb such huge quantities of people. Instead of trying to help a tiny percentage of people shouldn't we be looking at the root causes of poverty - corruption, war and apathy. To only encourage the bright and skilled of developing countries to leave is hardly helping the people left behind. Increasing aid helps and providing technical and educational programmes could also help, but robbing countries of their greatest resource - manpower - will not help the poor or the richer countries but simply lead to unrest and discontent.
    Sam, Dubai/UK ex-pat

    I think immigration can be a problem for both the country the immigrants come to and for the country they leave. However I think the blame needs to be put where it belongs: if droves of people leave a country and "drain its brains", it is that country's fault. I think all the professionals ought to leave those incompetent countries - that way those countries would be left with nothing and maybe those incompetent leaders would finally have to start improving the lives of the citizens.
    LS, US

    I think immigration can be a benefit to a country
    John Clark, UK

    I think immigration can be a benefit to a country by expanding the cultural base of its people. I also think that immigrants should be encouraged to learn, and speak, the language of the land they now inhabit and should be required to undergo citizenship courses before they qualify for benefits. They should also be employed on community projects to earn money to keep themselves and their families. This system might also cause the economic migrants to think twice about coming over here.
    John Clark, Southampton, UK

    No one likes to leave his/her home, but circumstances and the basic instinct of the human to improve push them to look for better opportunity somewhere else. However, developed countries or the so-called first world must stop stealing the poor countries' resources. Most of the developed countries used to occupy one or more of the poor countries, and they set up very ignorant systems with hand-picked leaders. We do not want the developed countries to open their doors to immigration but keep their hands off the poor countries and try to help them and treat them as human beings.
    M.S, USA

    The underlying issue is that no developed country can sustain uncontrolled immigration of any form. It creates problems in the social infrastructure and generates resentments from those that are being forced to pay the bill. They flee for mostly economic reasons and the developing countries should attempt to set up some form of free trade zones in the originating countries to encourage people to stay where they are for the same economic reasons. However, those individuals that offer any objections or attempt to offer suggestions for control are more often pointed to as the cause and not the solution. Countries such as the UK, the USA, and the like must remember that they must consider their own citizens first before any others.
    Dennis Leslie, Salem, New Hampshire, USA

    I emigrated from the UK to the USA in 1988, becoming a US citizen this year. I'm not sure that any country is as welcoming to immigrants as the USA, although it's not an easy step to take anywhere. Living in Texas is to live in a society rich with immigrant cultures, mostly Mexican and others from South America and not a few Brits brought here by the high tech corporations. This mix of cultures works pretty well here and there's no good reason why it cannot work elsewhere, given goodwill. In my recent visits to the UK I see a multitude of cultures mostly living together as Britons. Sadly I also see and read about a host of politicos trying to gain leverage, fame and power with this issue.
    Allister McNeish, AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA

    It seems to me that we are losing a lot of money because of our immigration laws
    Steve W, Southampton, UK

    It seems to me that we are losing a lot of money because of our immigration laws, because if a person enters the country illegally they are hardly likely to sign up for tax purposes. Welcome them with open arms, I say, and give them top-rate tax codes so that they can pay 50 per cent tax like the rest of us. That way, they benefit from having a job and being part of society, and we benefit from having more tax money to spend on the NHS and our abysmal public transport system.
    Steve W, Southampton, UK

    The media makes it seem as if people who travel to developed countries, particularly from third world countries, are not subjected to rigorous visa applications and interviews and even blatant insults from staff members in embassies. They are required to possess, or be related to people who possess, huge sums of money - very often foreign currencies - know the history of the countries they are travelling to, be in full-time study or employment and to be of a certain age, before they can travel to Europe or the US. This situation does not only accelerate the polarisation between the rich and the poor locally and globally but also encourages illegal immigration on a large scale, especially among the poor who still have to migrate in search of livelihood, dignity and respect. It is also very unfair to see freedom of movement denied to people of the third world whilst EU citizens & Americans come and go as they wish without strict restrictions.
    Sherry Brimah, UK

    I emigrated from the US to London UK back in 1981 when Thatcher first got in. Even though I am American the new rules under Thatcher forced me to work illegally in England for nine years. It was difficult for me to develop my career under those circumstances but overall the experience was very rewarding and ended happily. I wonder how happily it ends for others that are not WASPs like myself?
    John Doe, Sacramento, California

    Immigrants have historically had a positive impact on the economy of the country welcoming them
    Neil, England

    The strongest case to be made for immigration in a capitalist society is that immigrants have historically had a positive impact on the economy (not to mention the culture) of the country welcoming them. We can improve the current system by discriminating between potential migrants on the basis of their skills and abilities. Sentimentality regarding the plight of the individuals in their home nation, while understandable, is misplaced in forming a rational policy for immigration. If the first world wishes to address world poverty, then they should take steps to remove trade tariffs (either by means of the WTO or via bilateral agreements) and allow developing countries an even playing field when selling their produce - this, rather than any number of aid programmes or diplomatic steps to protect human rights will help to alleviate the plight of the world's poorest people.
    Neil, London, England

    I feel we should adopt the same policy as the USA, those wishing to become British citizens should swear an oath to this country. Also, as in the USA, they should be required to speak English or the destination country's language. I, like most people, do not wish to support immigrants with taxpayer's money when there are homeless and jobless British citizens but have no objection to those wishing to make a new life as a British citizen by making a contribution to the progression of this country. While racism is a disgusting attitude of ignorance, it is being used far too frequently as an easy excuse not to debate a point.
    Scott, Great Britain

    I think immigration of skilled labour from poorer countries causes brain drain from their country of origins, and damages those countries' economies. Their countries have spent millions to educate them, so that they could benefit their nation in the long run. The fact that they then migrate to richer counties, that have not spent a penny in educating them, proves the richer countries can buy what they want - including people's brains.
    Kenzi Allen, Gentofte, Denmark

    Either we accept economic migration as a fact of life or we help would-be migrants to stay where they are
    Steve, UK

    We have two choices: either we accept economic migration as a fact of life or we help would-be migrants to stay where they are. As far as the UK goes, it would be worthwhile remembering that immigrants form only about 7% of the population, but that's if you exclude all the Vikings, French and Germans who came over here in the few thousand years prior to the 20th century. Also, the immigration that took place in the Fifties and early Sixties was actively encouraged because of labour shortages. It could only have been prevented by withdrawing the entitlement of certain Commonwealth citizens to a British passport coupled with a policy of forcing the indigenous population to fill the shortages, for without immigration British Rail and the NHS (amongst others) would probably have collapsed.
    Steve, UK

    In the UK we have a shortage of people prepared to do certain jobs, and an abundance of refugees and migrants who for some reason we prefer to give cash handouts rather than allowing them to work. We then complain about the cost of the cash handouts. Seems a bit rum to me.
    Guy Chapman, UK

    Most open minded and intelligent people would probably agree that the most socially and economically satisfying places to live on earth are the major metropolises built on the backs of immigrants - New York, London, Sydney to name but a few. Places populated by "little Englanders" with anti-immigration and racist outlooks generally have poor economics and are just plain boring.
    Andrew Ward, London England

    People need to escape injustice, oppression, corruption, nepotism and disenfranchisement
    G. Gonthier, Perth, WA

    Look at the reasons people emigrate. If they were happy in their home country, almost none of these problems would exist. People need to escape injustice, oppression, corruption, nepotism and disenfranchisement. And they need to fulfil their dreams as best they can.
    G.Gonthier, Perth, WA

    I am 22 years old Turkish citizen. I have been an immigrant since I was NINE years old. I lived in Spain, France, visited all across Western Europe and now I am currently living in the USA. Immigrants are looking for a dream, for a hope that many born in western countries take for granted. Immigration is beneficial to both sides if it is carried out in a controlled manner. Take either Canada or Australia as an example. Both countries have a welcome immigration policy based on skill, education, language skill etc. Many people fear that immigrants will take their jobs away. Immigrants come to fill skill shortages and to provide cheap labour where no else wants to do the job because the pay is too bad or the work is way too horrible. Everyone picks on immigrants because they are the weakest and most defenceless.
    G, Raleigh US

    Immigration should either be stopped by introducing tough new laws or the existing laws be changed to make migration easy for everyone. The current immigration rules of most developed countries have huge holes in them. This makes them open to corruption, encouraging illegal immigration and people smuggling.
    Rasiya, USA

    The exchange of ideas and philosophy can only be positive
    Graham Kenyon, UK

    Would you like to be confined to your house, unable to move? The ability to move is a great freedom that has only been restricted in recent times. The exchange of ideas and philosophy can only be positive.
    Graham Kenyon, UK

    I think a country should tie its immigration to its unemployment rate. If a country has near full employment, then by all means open the door to immigrants. If unemployment is high, immigration should be reduced. A nation should tend to its own citizens' well being first.
    Dave Holtz, Indianapolis, USA

    Immigration helps liberal middle class people feel good about themselves because they are ostensibly aiding the poor and underprivileged of the world. Of course, it is mostly not they who are displaced by desperate immigrants willing to live several to a room and work for less than minimum wage. In the US, low-skilled workers have not gained economically even after 10 years of boom times. It's the downward pressure on wages from millions of immigrants that has caused that situation.
    Dana Garcia, Berkeley, California, USA

    In the US they have a lottery system for some people who want citizenship and I think we should have the same system here. The UK could easily absorb 50,000 more economically active immigrants especially from Eastern Europe, the Indian sub-continent and the rest of Asia.
    Andrew Wright, UK

    Weren't we all advised to "get on our bikes" and look for work?
    Stephen, Barcelona, Spain

    Migrants come to rich countries because rich countries have what they want. If they could find it at home, then they wouldn't migrate. If the Marshall Plan was good for business after the 2nd World War, just think how much good a similar programme would be for the underdeveloped world.
    Ken Klaowich, Vancouver, Canada

    Nobody loves to be in a foreign country but circumstances beyond the control of immigrants, compel them to migrate to those countries. There should therefore be selective permission as these countries too cannot let everybody to come to their countries.
    Mohamed Abdirahman, living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Kenyan)

    Whilst the majority of immigrants are only looking to work and pay our taxes, it is truly a case of the few have spoiled it for the many
    Matt West, USA

    Immigration is something which affects everyone - in both developed and developing countries. I am a British Citizen and recently married an American Lady and moved to the US. Because I am from a developed country this does not give me any more rights. My application will take as long to process as a man who moved to the US from Mexico, Brazil, Africa or even Peru. Immigration has never been about race or racism, it has been implemented to keep people who wish to do nothing but lay around and scrounge off the government out, and honest hard workers in. Whilst the majority of immigrants(including myself) are only looking to work and pay our taxes, it is truly a case of the few have spoiled it for the many.
    Matt West, San Antonio, TX, USA

    Yes I do believe that we should accept genuine asylum seekers on a shared basis with other suitable counties able to help. Bogus economic refugees definitely not. We still have a million registered unemployed so why not a proper system for assisted INTERNAL migration to areas that need workers.
    Barry Spencer, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

    I was born in Nigeria, the son of Christian missionaries. The Bible tells us that we love God if we help our neighbour when we are able. Thus, I favour immigration. However, it would also ease a lot of pain if the richer countries worked "all-out" to improve conditions overseas (with education and aid) so that their inhabitants won't need to travel to get to a comfortable life.
    Randy, Detroit, USA

    Your comments during the programme

    My point really is that it's not knowing whether to separate immigration from race. Obviously, in the UK you mention immigration and people immediately talk about race and racism. I think it is the perceived easiness with which the present batch of immigrants can get into the UK. Spain makes it much more difficult to get into the country and stay here on a permanent basis.
    Darren Parmenter, Spain

    The EU needs our labour and we will not be kept out and when you are all too few and too old the balance of power will shift to young migrants. It will be interesting how much the EU will then pay to "import" our labour.
    Julie Vullnetari, Korce, Albania

    To me the reason for the influx of migration from developing countries to developed countries is because of the wrong policies of major financial organizations like IMF & World Bank for the developing countries. They are actually imposing their own rules and regulations on our development policies that are not actually working in its expected pace.
    Haroon Ahmed Dhaka, Bangladesh

    I feel that the developed countries are creating more poverty and more problems in developing countries
    Margaret M. James, Zimbabwe

    To put an end to this high influx of migration in the developed world is first to go deeper into the serious problem by first establishing democracy in the developing countries in a more honest manner rather than sustaining the corrupt regimes of dictatorships and at the same time as exploiting the wealth of these countries through the ruling class while the rest is not having the benefit of it. In other words, change should be made from within.
    Hany Mekkawi, Germany

    I feel that the developed countries are creating more poverty and more problems in developing countries. We spend a lot of money on training people and then we loose those people when they go to work elsewhere. Here in Zimbabwe we are extremely short of nurses and doctors, because many of the medical personnel whom we have trained have gone to use their skills elsewhere.
    Margaret M. James, Karoi, Zimbabwe

    At this present moment in time, you cannot say too much about Immigration for fear of being called a racist. A full debate should be taken up to decide the future of Immigration in the UK. But this can only happen without the racists and the politically correct being silenced. I personally believe that the UK is a soft touch and immigration should be restricted to genuine refugees.
    David, United Kingdom

    It is neither entirely positive nor entirely negative. However migration has always existed, so I don't understand what all the fuss is about. Controlled immigration should be encouraged.
    Mark Calzaverini, UK

    Australia has been a major beneficiary of immigration. As previous speakers have stated, immigration has transformed the face of our nation. As to the results of that migration, the flavour of the different ethnic and racial groups has ensured that the nation is vibrant and alive. I can only endorse migration and the benefits that arise from migration.
    Bill Woerlee, Canberra

    Isn't this the flip side of the coin of the so called globalisation of where there is unfettered movement of capital
    Phillip Yap, Melbourne

    Given the huge economic incentives and the increasing sophistication of the traffickers, we are going to face huge and increasing illegal immigration. We have to get used to this. Also, we can't take all, or even a significant number, of those people facing genuine persecution all over the world. We should however do as much, not as little, as we possibly can, and under no circumstances should we demonise those striving to better themselves, as our dreadful media and politicians are doing in the UK and elsewhere.
    Paul Dennis

    Isn't this the flip side of the coin of the so called globalisation of where there is unfettered movement of capital. Why not the same treatment too on the movement of labour in search of economic improvment!
    Phillip Yap, Melbourne

    A point to remember is that when immigrants can improve their knowledge, abilities and financial clout which in turn can go back in one form or another to the country of origin has one great benefit for the country they emigrated to. They are then a force towards political allies and friendship. Those who have been educated and trained in the west are generally pro-west in times of political turmoil. Turning people back makes enemies. Welcoming people makes friends. as for ability to absorb, being "too crowded". I think that is a bit of a myth. Lots of British people would and do emigrate elsewhere - preferably with sun when the political climate is friendly, democratic and welcoming.
    Ms Brewer, Spain

    The West would only increase the dependency of developing nations by milking them of their skilled workers. This is another form of colonialism and exploitation of the Third World countries. This must stop at once. It is delusional to say that these skilled workers would eventually return to their countries of origin. Historically this has never happened. This is merely a facade to cover up the exploitation of the poorer countries.

    It is neither entirely positive nor entirely negative. However migration has always existed, so I don't understand what all the fuss is about. Controlled immigration should be encouraged.
    Mark Calzaverini, UK

    One of the things we are saying here is that the problem is the west is sustaining these dictatorships. Often in development aid the money goes to the government and they decide what happens to it. We shouldn't support dictatorships but it's not for us to go and replace other people's governments. Migrants, who travel in labour migration, who send money home are actually funding all sorts of grass roots activity - building the social capital of their country of origin and this allows change from the bottom up. Migrants are also a political force not just a socio-economic force.
    John Davies

    My opinion is that the less crowded countries should facilitate more inflow of immigrants then highly crowded countries like the Netherlands. Immigration should be allowed in a controlled manner in order to optimize the build-up of the population as far as age is concerned, so that economical stability may be maintained. Further I would like to promote a better assimilation of immigrant groups. In the Netherlands as in many other European countries tensions arise now and then, because the existing culture is being threatened by importing other religions and cultures. The lack of assimilation of large immigrant groups in the Netherlands is considered a serious security threat for the democratic state.
    Karel Postulart, Zaandam, The Netherlands

    In Singapore, we encourage migration into the country as it improves our talent pool. It also coincides with our meritocracy policy. The locals will also be encouraged to work harder to improve themselves.
    Lawrence, Singapore

    If one wants to restrict migration, I think the solution to limiting this lies in stabilizing the country of origin
    Daniel Laurent, USA

    I think migration is a phenomenon that is essential to enhancing cultural diversity and richness. Still, I realize that large scale migration can be dangerous in that often, migrants become the subjects of racism and economic selection. The present state of the world is one in which there is a great disparity in economic wealth. The richer countries are usually quite rich, and the poorer ones usually quite poor. More often than not, these poorer countries are quite unstable, politically or socially. These situations stimulate migration to richer countries. If one wants to restrict migration, I think the solution to limiting this lies in stabilizing the country of origin.
    Daniel Laurent, Student, The College of William and Mary Williamsburg, Va.

    The United Kingdom, like most other developed countries, should keep its doors open for immigration as wide as is possible. The only limitation I can personally comprehend is the adaptability of the person wishing to migrate to the United Kingdom. The second is the ability of the country to absorb migration.
    Yevgeni Garif, USA

    I spent a year in India and Sri Lanka and had plenty of opportunities to exchange opinions with those eager to practice their command of the English language. There was always amazement at my description of poverty in the UK, of people being unemployed and homeless. This was always received with great disbelief, the general opinion being that mine was the land of milk and honey and instant wealth. One of the fundamental problems is the type of propaganda, which reaches most of those with a TV set.
    Gabriella, London, UK

    My opinion is that the labour market should be more open between Western and Eastern Europe. This would bring more fairness between the employee and the employer. You see in France some employees are very angry because some factories are being closed because in Eastern Europe there are very low wages.
    Dumitru Potop, Romanian in France

    I'm an Ecuadorian studying in Australia but after I finish my studies, I want to go back to Ecuador. The reason is simple, if everyone wants to migrate to other countries (Spain and the US in the case of most Ecuadorians), then who is left to take our country forward. Instead of allowing more immigrants to enter developed nations, rich countries should help to improve the economic and social situation of their world nations. Remember that in most cases immigrants are exploited and we are left with entire phantom cities back home and no one to work for a better future.
    Jorge Almeida-Chiriboga, Toowoomba, Australia

    I think in a world that adds another United States in population every four years, these countries should question using an endless supply of cheap labour to make ourselves rich.
    Craig Nelson, USA

    While capital and technology has aggressively asserted its right to travel everywhere, labour is not allowed to do so and some of the produce of labour, such as textiles are also kept out. There's something fundamentally wrong in this. Also, there can be "managed migration" for mutual benefit especially to countries such as Japan which fear a negative population growth: invite doctors, nurses, social workers and other workers needed to care for the aged and place the carers and cared in special areas. If necessary, the imported workers can be from races approved by the recipient countries.
    N. Jayaram (Indian national), Hong Kong

    I am greatly concerned at the continuing growth in immigration and the uncontrolled surge in bogus asylum. Of course, immigration can be healthy in the long run but a country as crowded as ours can only assimilate so many newcomers from different cultures at any one time and that number has long been exceeded
    Brian Harris, UK

    A lot of this discussion seems premised on the notion that if existing barriers to immigration were removed, most of the third world would decamp to developed countries.

    Yet when Spain and Greece joined the EEC, their relatively poor citizens did not all pack up and move to rich EEC countries. Similarly, unemployment and poverty clusters in the UK imply that people are unwilling to move even within their own country. I think it's by no means clear that immigration is an issue to get worked up about.
    Chris Glasson, Cambridge, England

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    I am a British immigrant to the USA myself. My position established due to a skill shortage in my industry. I feel this is an example of where immigration can be good for a country. Immigrants who arrive and require taxpayer support is not a good example. We should try to address this undesirable situation as a world and help to ease the situation in problem countries.
    Rob, Hyannis, MA, USA

    Immigration is an inevitable consequence of history: It's the empire striking back!
    Pradin, Cambridge, UK

    I have yet to hear any rational argument in favour of further increasing the UK's population. The planet as a whole is overpopulated and some countries (including the UK) more so than others. The only way to raise the standard of living and ensure an ecologically sustainable future for the whole of humankind is to encourage (by non-coercive means) a gradual population decrease, before mother nature does it for us in a more catastrophic manner.
    Frip, Hants UK

    Developed countries are becoming richer and richer thanks to the contribution of immigrants. For example, the United States of America's economy is flourishing because of immigrants. What will happen if the Indian and Chinese software professionals in the US leave America? It will definitely affect the economy of the US to a great extent. Let developed nations which have robbed the best brains from developing countries not think that they are helping the latter. By employing the immigrants from less developed nations, developed nations gain a lot.
    Albert P'Rayan, Indian expatriate in Kigali, Rwanda

    Of course people cannot be allowed to migrate at will. The migration would be in one direction only - from poor countries to rich. With the best will in the world, there is no way that the rich countries could absorb even a small percentage of the world's poor - the majority of whom would be left to their poverty, deprived of their brightest, youngest and most dynamic compatriots (the very people they need to help lift their countries out of poverty). A total ban on economic migration coupled with SUBSTANTIAL economic and other assistance is the only practical answer.
    Michael Entill, UK

    I grew up in the American Southwest and have lived for many years in Switzerland. In the USA, the primary problems of immigration are socio-economic and linguistic. The immigrant workforce is vital, especially in the fertile central valley of California and other agricultural areas.

    Switzerland, on the other hand, is tiny country, poor in natural resources and with very little arable land. The land is already supporting more than the maximum population. Any further population growth due to immigration would necessitate that yet more vineyards, pastures and farm land be paved over and built upon.

    In large countries with much arable land immigration can be and usually is a good thing for both the immigrants and the local population. In small, densly populated countries like Switzerland, the message is: Sorry, folks, no more room.
    Donnamarie Leemann, Switzerland

    Charity begins at home. When we have a homeless problem, pensioners dying of hypothermia because they can't afford to heat their homes. A crumbling health and education system then we should be getting our own house in order first. We already spend large amounts of money in aiding the poor abroad, we already take far more immigrants than we as a TINY country can really deal with. Enough is enough, time to see to our own poor... or are they 'invisible', somehow less worthy to these 'bleeding hearts'?
    P Raven, UK

    How can we, in rich countries, send back asylum seekers to horrible places they would give so much to escape from? We have a moral obligation to help them, and economically many would be willing to work very hard to stay in our countries.
    Emma T, Sydney, Australia

    Most countries would be acting wisely to open doors to immigrants, particularly skilled ones
    James Lim, Singapore

    I think that there is no way to stop immigration. As the world population becomes more and more mobile, it is only natural that people want to move in search of better career prospects and better lives. While a significant move for political reasons, this is no justification to use that to curb immigration. The thing is, many parts of the world operate via free market forces. In fact, most countries would be acting wisely to open doors to immigrants, particularly skilled ones. The burden should not be left to one or two countries, even though they may be natural popular choices for the migrants.
    James Lim, Singapore

    The success of United States being a world economic and military super power is a living proof that immigration either political or economic is a way forward. It adds different colour and diversity to society and makes it more rich. The West in general and Britain, having a colonial past, in particular, have the moral responsibility to share their wealth and prosperity with those who are less fortunate.
    Zahid Khan, Portsmouth, England

    Economically disadvantaged countries ought to be assisted to develop their own economies, and helped to project an image of the future that their citizens can buy into. Small improvements in quality of life, or even the promise of such, can mitigate an exodus.
    Simon, USA

    I believe that the UN declaration gives people the right to live where they please. At present there are adverts in the South African press recruiting doctors, teachers, health workers, accountants, etc. for Britain at a time when the South African Republic needs such people more than ever. Are not such adverts pernicious? Most people would prefer to stay at home where their roots are where their families are - but where they have no job, no money, no security, no chances, so they will try their luck elsewhere. If politicians, statesmen and stateswomen want to end this problem they must tackle the STRUCTURE of POVERTY which keeps poor nations poor, by ending their debt burden and by REALLY investing in poor nations. And if capital can move freely, why not people?
    Michael Sale

    I think the world should be open to everyone and no-one should be prevented to go anywhere. Only then the world will learn to be more tolerant and learn to live with itself! This would encourage harmony and prevent wars.
    Osman Aftab, Pakistan

    Surely it would be better to invest in the poor countries, rather than encourage immigration - they need the talent more than we do. As for skill shortages these are often exaggerated - certainly with IT. The collapse of the .com bubble has freed many resources. Outsourcing work to India in IT is also a positive trend.
    Bob, England

    Nobody is just simply leaving his country and migrating. There are many factors, the main one being political. Some people have to migrate or risk being killed by the dictators at home. Developed countries shouldn't close their doors to these migrants. If the rich countries are threatened by immigration mainly from developing countries, the best solution, it seems to me, is to take all necessary measures to get rid of dictators from developing countries. Otherwise, simply closing doors for migrants is morally and humanely very wrong. On the other hand, if they close their doors to migrants only seeking economic advantage, I would say it is correct - they have to go back to their home country and work strong to develop the country.
    Getinet Beshah, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    I don't understand why the government is encouraging immigration to fill skills shortages
    Kathy, Wales

    I don't understand why the government is encouraging immigration to fill skills shortages when we have the collapse of firms such as Consort, and high unemployment figures. While I have nothing against people coming here from other countries, I feel that our own skills shortages do not need to be addressed by immigration necessarily, but by proper retraining of those people who are currently out of work and desperately need a job. And if there are jobs with low uptakes among the resident population, then perhaps better salaries and working conditions would ensure more applications for this type of work. It is wrong to assume that immigrants will take up menial, poorly paid and unpleasant jobs just because others won't apply for them; why should they? Make the conditions more acceptable, and the applications will increase from those currently without jobs.
    Kathy, Wales

    Looking at the success and failure of the economies of the twenty-first century, I can say it has been undoubtedly proved that immigration is vital for the development of a society. People come from other lands with new ideas and generate competition, which leads to development in every sphere of the society. On the other hand an uncontrolled immigration may bring chaos and conflict. To be fair I believe organisations like the UN should decide, looking at a certain nations need, how many from one country shall be allowed to migrate to which other countries. Rich countries should open their doors for a certain number of immigrants from third world countries every year.
    Monjur Chowdhury, Madison, Alabama

    A simple yes or no isn't possible to this question, in my view. It depends on a)the geographical size of a particular country; b)the population density of that country; and c)the culture of that country. If a country is large geographically, and has a low-density population, and the prospective migrant is in cultural harmony with the prospective "host" country, then, theoretically, there should be no problem. Britain - and the South-East of England in particular - is already overpopulated. Space, not race, is the issue as far as I'm concerned. Of course, global capitalism is the underlying problem. If wealth were more fairly distributed throughout the world, then people would be much less motivated to settle elsewhere.
    D.Roberts, Hastings, UK.

    I think that it's time we cared about the world as a whole
    Juan Molina, Colombia/UK/Germany

    I think that it's time we cared about the world as a whole and not about the "lands" that the tribe wars made into what today are the countries. Isn't the pollution in the developed countries affecting the poor countries as well? Aren't the nuclear tests affecting the WHOLE planet? I truly believe that we have to work united as the planet does. The rich countries have technology, the poor countries have land and natural resources. I think a more relaxed migration policy would allow us, as human beings, to achieve that global balance. I don't mean opening the flood gates in the rich countries, since the poor countries also have high indices of lack of education; but a well thought out policy where schools and universities are connected globally and they share their information with the "local" companies - as is the case in any country now - slowly creating a well-educated, global working force.
    Juan Molina, Colombia/UK/Germany

    I believe we should work harder to keep people in their birth places by investing political time and money in making their countries better places to live.
    Mick P, England

    In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it stipulates that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services ". Farther, Article 28 lays out that: " Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized." In the current state of world affairs, where wealth is unequally distributed between the rich and the poor countries, where a billion people live in the most total destitution, there is no other solution to fulfil one's rights to a decent standard of living than to migrate to the West. The national motto of Liberia is "The love of Liberty brought us here", it can be easily rebranded for the new migrants "The hate of poverty brought us here".
    Robert Eklo, Paris, France

    I find it interesting that the free market globalists are all for non-interference in economic activities until you reach two critical labour points - freedom of labour to work where they please on a global scale, and freedom of labour to organize.
    Johnboy, USA

    When a person from a developed nation moves to a developing nation do we not term it as immigration?
    John W Hongo, Kenya

    Immigration is all over the world. Be it from the West or East. When a person from a developed nation moves to a developing nation for some reason, do we not term it as "immigration"? Illegal immigration is a crime. But with legal immigration, all doors all over the world should be wide open, no matter where the immigrant is moving or coming from. Otherwise the term immigration will be an endless war within our universe.
    John W Hongo, Kenya

    Even with a large number of people claiming unemployment benefit many unskilled low paid jobs are hard to fill. Immigration fills jobs that are too badly paid for members of the existing population to do, but at the same time this prevents any long-term solution. The answer to the shortage of labour at the lower end of the pay scale is that these jobs should be paid more! The first generation of immigrants may be prepared to do these jobs but their children are not and who can blame them. A constant flow of new immigrants helps keep the wages for these jobs low. If immigration stopped, then market forces would make the wages for these jobs rise or the work would not be done!
    Will, Norwich, UK

    I am an Englishman living in Japan and in the years that I have called Tokyo home can recall but one case of refugee immigration here. It happened at the time of the tragic turn of events in Kosovo and the few families that were taken in here were, I understand, accepted due to family already in the country. The price they paid - numerous TV documentaries and showboating a PR company would have been proud to have arranged. So yes, I believe the more economically advanced nations have a duty to (really) help out those less fortunate, but don't forget - those countries include nations that were shut for centuries and that still haven't found a way of dealing with foreigners - on any level.
    Mark Buckton, TOKYO - JAPAN

    An end to ageism in the work place would go a long way to alleviating the problem
    Graeme, England

    An end to ageism in the work place would go a long way to alleviating the problem of a shrinking workforce. Employers need to be forced into fair treatment for older applicants just as they needed to be for ethnic minorities and women. The underlying prejudices in the employment market are all still alive and 'well', the main problem is that whilst racism and sexism are well known and are being actively fought, little is being done about ageism.
    Graeme, England

    The benefits of immigration out-weigh the costs. So why not let people from other countries fill unwanted jobs, pay taxes, bring new skills, meet skill shortages, and provide potential trading and economic contacts with origin countries. They want to live here, and they are needed so what is the problem!
    Krysia Sturgeon, Lincs, UK

    The answer to your discussion forum could be yes or no. Yes because as the population ages there is lack of energetic and young people for the labour force. The answer could be no because the problem of illegal migrants is growing day by day with no end in sight. People are ready to risk their lives and even willing to die on a long voyage to a wealthy nation. This may not be a patriotic death for many but it is in a way for the victim's family. I myself being a immigrant from India settled in Canada for last five years.

    I came through proper channels after paying full immigration fees and undergoing lot of scrutiny and police clearance. But I am opposed to the fact that people coming illegally and abusing the social system of another country.
    Vivek Sharma, Calgary,Canada

    I disagree with people who believe that immigrants burden on their economy or draw more social benefits then the locals. When an immigrant arrives in a new country, he or she is an instant consumer of the products and services in that country, starts paying taxes and contributes to the economy. Not to forget that the country he or she migrates to has not spent a single cent on the education or health.
    Pradeep , Toronto, Canada

    England is already the second most densely populated country in Europe. We are concreting over more and more countryside to accommodate the people we already have. We have crowded roads, crowded public transport, crowded hospitals and crowded schools. When do we finally say there's no room left?
    Helen, Nottingham, UK

    Falling and ageing populations are a challenge, not a problem
    Anthony, Germany/ UK

    Falling and ageing populations are a challenge, not a problem. Most people would agree that the world is over-populated and over-polluted. Shouldn't we therefore welcome falling populations in the developed world and learn how to cope with any skills shortages as and when they arise?
    Anthony, Germany/ UK

    As an Australian who has worked in the EU, the US, and Australia I'd really like to see an agreement between the EU, the US and other countries of similar economic development to allow free movement of people. Working in other countries builds international connections and allows people to see other cultures and understand their own.
    Peter Sienkowski, Norfolk, VA, USA

    It is all the more hilarious that people who live in a country like Great Britain should talk about restricting immigration. Just look back at the history of any part of the world and ask yourself when there was a time when there were no population movements. Britain would never have been what it is today, were it not for the different migration trends that have marked its history!
    Teobesta, Nagoya, Japan

    We must allow highly qualified immigrants and investors into Britain in order to maintain our competitiveness against the US. We have a declining population and must allow immigrants into the country to avoid high taxes in the future.
    C. Bartlett, Oxford, UK

    Nobody seems to complain about the large numbers of economic migrants from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand. How are these people different from economic migrants from other countries? Could it possibly be that we find them more "acceptable" because they are white, and "like us"? We are guilty of hypocrisy as a nation if we welcome people from only a handful of countries.
    John, UK

    To maintain economic growth immigration must be allowed. But only to those who are capable of adding to the economy of the country. I have been in the UK for the last year on a work permit. I have seen many companies close down or reduce production due to staff shortages, resulting in job losses. If capable migrants were allowed in then these job losses could have been prevented.
    Arun Sinha, UK/ India

    Western countries have for years been preaching to the rest of the world the great benefits that flow from the free movement of goods and capital. The same economic arguments apply equally well to the free movement of labour. However, in this case the same governments are keen to stop it. It seems their commitment to free trade only holds as long as it can benefit themselves.
    A. Dawar, Cambridge, UK

    Free mobility in the EU has created no end of opportunities
    Huw Bowen, Denver, USA (from UK)

    Immigration is good. Free mobility in the EU has created no end of opportunities. These days, whether we like it or not, we are all citizens of the world. We can only be improved by getting to know one another, and what better way than to live in different cultures?
    Huw Bowen, Denver, USA (from UK)

    The UK is overrun with immigrants as it is. Regardless of what people say, and at the risk of sounding racist, the average English person is sick to the back teeth of being dictated to by Brussels, paying extra taxes towards helping immigrants, and seeing British war veterans being beaten up by immigrants whilst walking along the streets in the country they fought to protect.
    Ade Mansbridge, Bournemouth, England

    Clearly the days of immigration are over. I am tired of talk about economic benefits, they simply no longer pertain. Disease, racial strife, uncontrolled population and preserving culture dictates the need to stop mass movements.
    Dick, Boston, USA

    The level of ignorance among British people about the contributions of immigrants to the UK economy never ceases to amaze me
    Ndubisi Obiorah, Colchester, England

    For the information of James Bruce Reid and the many other ignorant Brits, immigrants are not entitled to welfare benefits in the UK for the simple reason that most first generation African and Asian immigrants are illegal. Accordingly, they exist in a shadow world in which they literally do not exist on the public records which they would need to be on to receive welfare benefits. I have been studying in Britain for six months now and the level of ignorance among British people about the contributions of immigrants [legal and illegal] to the UK economy, education and health systems never ceases to amaze me
    Ndubisi Obiorah, Colchester, England

    When we discuss immigration, what we really have to ask is why people want to immigrate in the first place. The fundamental reason is because of the global inequality of wealth distribution, and no government will move a finger to address this issue because it would mean overthrowing the whole global capitalist economic system. Yet this is the only way to ever change things.
    Sab Singh, London, UK

    There is something very funny about someone writing from Aberdeen to say that immigration should be stopped. Isn't England full of Scots immigrants, and didn't Dr Johnson say that for a Scot the highroad to success is the high-road to London?
    jon livesey, USA

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