Immigrants are good for Singapore – Economics Professor

Singapore is one of the top 25 destinations for immigrants in the world, and in 2017 alone, the country accepted over 22,000 new citizens into the country.  The local population has generally reacted with some concern about this influx of foreign talent, placing the blame on migration for taking good jobs away from local Singaporeans, and overcrowding.

Ng Yew Kwang, a welfare economics professor at Nanyang Technological University has suggested that immigration and immigrants are good for the society in the long term, as it ensures that the best global talent is recruited for local roles, keeping Singapore competitive on a global scale.  He does support slight preferential treatment for local workers; this is due to the cost of physically relocating migrant workers into Singapore as well as the cost of settling in to a new country.

He has also argued that the practice of hiring foreign talent to top roles in Singapore has been partially responsible for the rise in salaries, which in turn benefits those Singaporeans who are in work.  Furthermore, he highlights that despite the high rate of immigration most Singaporeans are in work.  The unemployment rate is about 3%.

Professor Ng’s position appears to be at odds with Singapore’s recent approach to immigration which as seen a dramatic fall in the employment of foreigners since 2016.

His commentary on Channel News Asia can be found here.

Softer Rhetoric from Germany’s CSU on Immigration Law

The head of Germany’s Christian Social Union, Horst Seehofer, has indicated that he might support a position where asylum seekers are allowed to settle in the country if they are able to gain employment and learn the language.  He is currently Germany’s Minister for the Interior, and a member of Chancellor Merkel’s coalition government. The coalition is due to discuss a new immigration law, and this position raises hopes that a compromise position may be possible between the parties.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been supportive of letting more skilled migrants enter Germany from non-EEA countries, as the German job market has continued to experience shortages.  However, some disagreements within the coalition have revolved around whether asylum seekers already in the country should be allowed to stay if they demonstrate employability and the ability to integrate with the society.

Reuters’ reporting of this story can be found here.

Chobani Boss Weighs in on US Immigration Policy

The founder of Chobani Yogurts, Hamid Ulukaya, has talked about concerns within his workforce and supply partners about the effect of America’s hardening immigration policy on their lives.  They have expressed concerns not about their own status, but about the possible impact on their families being able to visit them, and their ability to hire workers to do manual farming tasks.

Mr. Ulukaya, himself a migrant to the US, has had a long-standing policy of hiring migrant workers in Chobani, and has been active in supporting refugees through his charity, “Tent Partnership for Refugees”.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Mr. Ulukaya expressed his support for the Trump administration’s “America first” policy, but stated that this should not be at the expense of putting “humanity first”.    He expressed hopes that the current policy trend will not damage America’s image as a land of opportunity where dreams can be realised through hard work and perseverance.

CNN’s reporting of this story can be found here.

Italy Clamps Down on Potential Asylum Seekers

The government in Italy is poised to sign into law a decree which restricts the avenues through which illegal immigrants can claim asylum in Italy.  The law, known as the Salvini Bill, is also expected to restrict asylum seekers’ access to housing, and make it easier for them to be deported if they are merely accused of having committed crimes.

The current Italian regime has taken a hard line against humanitarian immigration, stating that it aims to rid the country of “crafty” migrants who are not truly fleeing wars in their home countries.

Human rights watch has called this a “new low” in Italy’s immigration policy and fears that many peoples lives will be put at risk by this hardline approach.  However, the Italian government’s view is that this will make the country safer by removing those who are considered to be “socially dangerous” from the community.

The Guardian’s reporting of this story can be found here.

EU Workers To Be Denied Preferential Treatment (UK)

The UK Government has decided in principle to follow the recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee and deny EU workers preferential treatment to treat EU nationals the same as every other national after Brexit.   Although this decision is not binding in the long term, it indicates that the government is prepared to follow the MAC’s recommendations regardless of the potential impact on negotiations with the EU.

The MAC had earlier confirmed that European Migration is not detrimental for the UK, but is no more beneficial than travel from the rest of the world.  According to their research, there’s no justification for treating EU migrants differently.  Rather, they recommended that the current Tier 2 work permit routes be opened up to include Europeans, that the monthly visa cap be removed and that the minimum salary for qualification be set at £30,000.

It is yet to be seen what the European Union’s reaction might be to this UK position and how it might impact the Brexit negotiations, particularly the fate of the many Britons currently living within the European Union.

The BBC’s reporting of this story can be found here.

Child Detention – Potential Sponsors Detained (US)

Migrant rights groups have called out an emerging trend in the US where potential sponsors coming forward to take children out of detention centers have themselves been detained. This situation tends to happen where the potential sponsors themselves do not have legal immigration status in the US. According to current practice, a sponsor needs to provide fingerprints before they are able to complete the process of getting a child – typically a relative – out of detention. It is at this point that the authorities are able to determine if the potential sponsor has current legal immigration status and take action accordingly.

Migrant rights groups have reacted with concern, stating that the US authorities’ action will only increase the likelihood of children remaining in detention for longer than necessary. Some are worried that their relatives may become too scared to show up at immigration detention facilities for fear that they themselves may be detained. The flip side of this argument is that the authorities are only enforcing the law and that illegal immigrants are not automatically to continue living as usual in the US once they have come to the attention of the authorities, even if that visibility is obtained in the context of their attempting to get a child out of detention.

The sensitive immigration debate in the US rages on.

The Guardian’s reporting of this study can be found here.

Green Card – Claiming Public Benefits Could Result in Refusal (US)

The US immigration authorities have proposed a change to the Green Card application consideration process. Currently, if an immigrant claims cash public benefits while not yet a permanent resident of the US, this fact can count negatively towards the Green Card application. The proposed change in the rules will make it detrimental for immigrants to claim any non-cash public benefits as well.

This approach in the US is actually similar to that already followed by some other countries such as the UK. In the United Kingdom, migrants from outside the European Economic Area are prohibited from accessing public funds until they become permanent residents.

Predictably, migrant rights groups are dismayed by this hardening of the United States’ immigration position, expressing the fear that the proposed new rules might scare migrants away from accessing much needed help, and could therefore have greater negative social consequences in the long term.

You can read Global News reporting of the story here.

Brexit – EU Low Skilled Migration May Be Impacted

The UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended that the UK treats EU migrants the same as non-EU post Brexit, assuming immigration is not a part of any final Brexit deal with the European Union.   The MAC’s recommendation is that existing Tier 2 visa rules be applied globally, and that the minimum salary requirement be placed at £30,000.  The committee advised that migration from the EU is not overall of significant benefit or detriment to the UK, and that the real benefit lies in the migration of highly skilled workers, whether they come from the EU or not.  So, in the absence of any hindering reciprocal agreement with Europe, the MAC’s academic position is that low skilled migration from Europe should be curbed, free movement between the UK and Europe ended, and all people from all nationalities be required to apply for work permits if they would wish to live and work in the UK.

It is however widely believed that immigration will be a key part of any final Brexit Deal, and so the UK Government might find it difficult to implement the MAC’s recommendations.

The full committee report can be found here.

UK – Kweku Adoboli Fights Deportation to Ghana

Kweku Adoboli, the British-based Ghanaian who was responsible for the biggest fraud ever recorded in the UK is fighting deportation from the UK to the country of his birth, Ghana.  Under the UK’s rules, a non-citizen who has been sentenced to prison for more than 4 years must be deported, in the absence of any compelling circumstances.  Kweku’s sentence was 7 years, of which he served half.  The sorts of circumstances that would be considered compelling would be strong family connections or job ties in the UK.  Kweku does not meet these criteria, as his current relationship is new and has not been allowed to work for money under the terms of his early release from prison.  However, he has been involved in charity work, attempting to educate leaders and others in the community to learn from his mistakes.

This case demonstrates the potential consequences to a migrant of not obtaining citizenship in their chosen country of residence at the earliest opportunity.  Kweku Adoboli was eligible to apply for citizenship, having lived in the UK for 26 years, but he kept putting if off because of his hectic travel schedule for work.  Consequently, he is still considered a foreigner and eligible for deportation to Ghana.  He has reportedly not lived in Ghana since he was 4 years old, and has been in the UK since he was 12.

A petition to prevent Kweku’s deportation has been backed by over 100 UK Members of Parliament (MPs).  However, barring a last-minute intervention, it is unlikely to help, as reports indicate that the Home Office has booked Mr. Adoboli’s flight to depart the UK on the 18th of September.

The Guardian’s reporting on this story can be found here.

UK – Immigration Rules Double in Length

It has been reported that the UK immigration rules have changed so frequently since 2010 that they have essentially doubled in length.  Successive Home Secretaries in that time have tried to push forward the Government’s attempt to promote certainty of immigration outcomes by restricting appeal rights and wording the rules more precisely.  However it would appear that the net result of all the changes has been to make the immigration rules less transparent and more confusing even to lawyers and judges.    There have even been reports of poorly drafted rules having to be amended shortly after publication.  More applicants have had to resort to lawyers for their visa applications, as it becomes harder and harder to navigate the rules independently.

A review and simplification of the UK immigration rules is overdue; not of course to make yet more changes and further complicate the situation, but to take a good hard look at what the rules have become, so that comprehensive changes can be made to help them achieve the aim of certainty without the unfortunate side effect of excessive complexity.

The former UK home secretary Amber Rudd referred the rules to the Law Commission in December 2017, and they are currently thought to be working on simplifying the rules.

The Guardian’s reporting of this story can be found here.