Immigration is one of the main issues on the table for the general election.
It is on the rise, with net immigration running at 298,000 people a year. Thousands of UK citizens are also migrating to other countries because of unemployment and job opportunities being better in other countries.
Illegal immigration is also becoming an issue as more and more people find it harder to legally travel to countries for long periods of time.
Immigrants find the advantages of living in another country – be that better living conditions, more opportunities or education, for example – outweigh the benefits of remaining where they are.
Each party has a different approach to immigration, but the main aim seems to be the same; reduce it.
The Tories take an upfront approach, planning to reduce immigration to ‘tens of thousands’ and ban migrants from claiming tax credits and housing benefit for four years, while reducing entitlement to social housing. They are also planning on cracking down on abuse of the system.
Labour want to ‘control and manage’ immigration. Their plans are to only allow migrants to claim benefits after two years, increase security at the borders and to ensure immigrants who take public service jobs can speak English.
Liberal Democrat leader and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said last year he was a ‘believer in the benefits of well-managed immigration’.
The Lib Dems plan to restrict Universal Credit payments to a six month period. In-work benefits would be paid only to those who work the equivalent of 35 hours a week on minimum wage and child benefit payments for young people abroad would be reduced.
UKIP says it would not want immigration targets, but for airports to have one queue for British citizens and another for the ‘rest of the world’. Illegal immigrants will not be given citizenship rights or amnesty.
The Green Party’s view is different. Their policy would ‘not discriminate directly’. No immigrants would be given special treatment if they had desirable skills, while immigrants who have lived illegally in England for five years will be allowed to stay if they do not pose a danger to the public.
In my opinion, immigration is not always a bad thing. Many immigrants bring vital skills to our country and help our economy to flourish.
People often migrate to get better jobs that suit them and help the country as a whole.
I think we could benefit from immigration, if we approach it correctly.