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UNITED KINGDOM: UK Government Targets “Unwanted” Migrants

In January, reports emerged that ministers had contemplated running an anti-UK ad campaign aimed at dissuading Bulgarian and Romanian nationals from moving to the UK. It was therefore less shocking, though still remarkable, when Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather disclosed in a recent interview that an internal ministerial group, initially operating under the title, "The Hostile Environment Working Group," had been formed with the mandate of making the UK unwelcoming to "unwanted" migrants.

Since 2010, the Conservative-led coalition government has focused on reducing annual net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. This fixation on absolute numbers rather than systemic improvement has led to a series of poor, politically driven policies that have inhibited businesses, damaged institutions of higher education, and driven wedges between families.

The tenor of the Government's approach can be seen in the Home Office's recent Annual Report and Account. There, the department distilled its "vision" to the following goals:

  • cut crime
  • reduce immigration
  • prevent terrorism

While this is just a summary, it is notable that "reduce immigration" (which also includes economically productive, culturally valuable, and generally beneficial forms of migration) is unqualified and slotted between crime and terrorism.

Indeed, by pursuing these objectives and intentionally creating a hostile environment, the government has not only succeeded in making life uncomfortable for immigrants of all stripes, but also has managed to harm many of its own citizens.

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