Labour got things wrong on immigration in the past. But Ed Miliband has set out a new approach: controlling immigration and controlling its impacts on local communities. Britain needs immigration rules that are tough and fair.
The Tories have let people down on immigration. David Cameron promised to get immigration down to the tens of thousands, but net migration is rising, not falling. It’s now at 243,000, higher than last year, and the Tories’ target is in tatters.
Illegal immigration, which isn’t even part of the Tories’ net migration target, is a growing problem. Fewer people are being stopped at the border, more people are absconding and fewer foreign criminals are being deported.
Meanwhile, the Tories are doing nothing to tackle the undercutting of local workers’ conditions and wages – one of the things that worries people most about immigration.
Labour will take a different approach:
- We will control immigration, with people counted in and out at the border.
- We will cut illegal immigration, with tough action including the reinstatement of fingerprint checks at the border and closing down loopholes that enable people to exploit short-term student visitor visas.
- We will tackle the exploitation of migrant workers that undercuts local workers, banning recruitment agencies from hiring solely from overseas and putting in place tougher enforcement of minimum wage laws.
- We will ensure migrants better integrate into British society by making sure more migrants learn English. With Labour, anyone working in a public sector job coming face-to-face with the public will be required to speak English.
- We will require every firm hiring a migrant worker from outside the EU to offer an apprenticeship in return, to help ensure that young people are given the opportunities and training they need.
- We will make sure that the system is fair and seen to be fair – imposing a six month residency before EU migrants are able to claim benefits and with a new assumption that people who commit crimes soon after arriving will be deported.