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Message from the CEO: the future of immigration

Categories: CEO's Blog

This week we caught a glimpse of the future. With only a few days remaining in the year, the government published its long-awaited post-Brexit immigration plans following a last minute cabinet deadlock. Just when we thought 2018 couldn’t get more dramatic!

The people we’ve met

Tamara teaching a life-drawing class

Tamara teaching a life-drawing class

Over the last year, at MRC, we’ve met thousands of talented people who have moved to the UK to pursue their dream of a prosperous life here. We met Tamara, an incredible artist whose work you can see below. She came to us to learn English, so she could communicate with her neighbours. Tamara volunteered with MRC, running art classes for migrants and British people. We also met Carolina, who learned English with us and visited our careers councillor to find a better job. Carolina now works in childcare and is striving towards a degree in graphic design.

Thinking back over 2018, I am mesmerised by the sheer number of talented, driven and passionate people I have met.

Our communities and our lives are enriched by migration. Our diversity is what makes London such a wonderful place to live. Migrants have set up one in seven UK businesses which employ 14% of the UK workforce. Migrants not only make a huge economic contribution, but the value they bring to communities is immeasurable.

Only high-earners: the immigration white paper

One of Tamara's paintings

One of Tamara’s paintings

The proposed immigration system doesn’t recognise the value or contributions of anyone unless they earn a high salary. Under its rules, for a person like Tamara or Carolina to move to the UK, they would have to already have secured a job that pays at least £30,000. This threshold already exists for people moving from outside the EU. Under the new system, it is likely to apply to everyone when we leave the EU. Anyone earning less than that will only be able to come for a year, and then will have to leave the country. And by 2025, no one earning under £30,000 will be able to make the UK their home.

Wages are not an indication of a person’s skills, their potential, or what our economy and society need to thrive. Industries like farming, hospitality and social care are particularly dependent on people who earn below threshold. In fact, nearly 65% of the British workforce earn less than this, but they are vital to keeping our whole economy functioning. A junior doctor, for example, can expect to earn £27,100. We need a system that sees the whole value and contribution of people.

Looking back, looking forward

As I write this, I look back on a big year for MRC. We’ve grown and are helping more people than ever. We’ve helped thousands of people learn English, find work, improve their health, get more involved in their communities, and get legal help for a safe and stable life. I’m proud of our staff, volunteers and our service users who have made huge personal achievements with us.

I also look towards a new but uncertain year for the UK. The people we meet every day are living this uncertainty. With this in mind, I’ve been thinking about my wishes for 2019:

I wish for an immigration system that works for the whole country and economy. A system that considers the full talents and potential of people, and the needs of all businesses

I wish for a system that brings families together, and protects refugees and people without a nationality who need a safe place to live. MRC’s policy team has worked hard to design a system that will work. You can find our proposals here

I wish to live in a country that enables people to thrive. A place everyone can call home, free from poverty or intimidation. A country where the victims of crime are not afraid to go to the police and the sick are not afraid to go to hospital because of their immigration status.

I wish for an end to the indefinite detention of people

I wish for protections to be put in place, and for people to be respected and valued, so that the shameful Windrush scandal is never allowed to happen again.

These hopes are ambitious, and MRC will be working hard to achieve them. I strongly believe we can get there through dialogue and all of us working together.

On behalf of everyone at MRC, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for your support in this incredible year. I wish you, and your family, a very happy holiday and good health in 2019.

Yours sincerely,

Wayne Myslik, CEO
Migrants Resource Centre