The unheard debate
Saturday 27 October, 5.15pm until 6.00pm, Upper Gulbenkian Gallery Rethinking...

Immigration is an issue that hovers beneath the surface of debates on everything from national identity to the evils of sex trafficking, but there seems to be a taboo against discussing it in its own terms. When campaigners do argue that we can’t cope with the rate of immigration, liberal critics respond by insisting that the statistics are dodgy, and that such a numbers game is actually thinly veiled racism. But it is rare for anyone to make a positive case for immigration as something that we should embrace rather than something we simply have to accept as inevitable, or as a burdensome duty to the downtrodden of the world.

The free market case for immigration points to the futility of attempts by governments to estimate the number of new workers the economy will require. Human rights campaigners meanwhile highlight the suffering of immigrants held in detention centres, as well as irregular migrants struggling to make a living without the protection of the law and the same fundamental rights as the rest of the population. The most positive thing anyone has to say about immigration is that it brings the benefits of cultural diversity, but many others see this too as a threat.

What would a debate look like in which the case for immigration was made positively rather than defensively?


Bruno Waterfield
Brussels correspondent, The Times; co-author, No Means No
Philippe Legrain
visiting senior fellow, LSE’s European Institute; author, Immigrants: your country needs them and European Spring: Why Our Economies and Politics are in a Mess – and How to Put Them Right
Raymond Perrier
campaign co-ordinator, Strangers into Citizens
Dr James Gledhill
fellow in political theory, LSE; co-convenor, IoI Postgraduate Forum

 Produced by

Dr James Gledhill fellow in political theory, LSE; co-convenor, IoI Postgraduate Forum

Out of the shadows: why we need an amnesty for immigrants, Austen Ivereigh and Raymond Perrier

 Recommended readings

A fair migration policy- without open borders
International migration is a transfer of value from poor countries to rich countries, taking human capital and the educational resources of the less developed world and using them in rich countries
Stephen Castles, openDemocracy, 28 December 2003

The folly of mass immigration
Mass immigration intensifies a world of flux, divided families, splintered communities, cultural alienation and ethnic resentments- a world where those who can live in the west, while those who cannot live in the rest
Anthony Browne, openDemocracy, 29 April 2003

A terrible fortnight full of anti-immigration sentiment
Rather than lead, UK political parties seem content to catch a ride on the rising tide of anti-immigration sentiment
David Aaranovitch, The Times, 1 October 2007

People flow:migration and Europe
Fear about mass migration arises from a deep uncertainty about the foundations of Europe's post-war security and wealth. We should be more capable and confident about the challenges posed by growing mobility
Theo Veenkamp, Alessandra Buonfino and Tom Bentley, openDemocracy, 29 April 2003

Migration fantasies: how not to debate immigration and asylum
There is a growing convergence between establishment thinking and that of the extreme right, with debates surrounding immigration becoming increasingly racialised as a result
Ali Rattansi, openDemocracy, 27 May 2003

Debates on Race, Immigration and Free Speech
Watch Claire Fox News look at the issue of Immigration and Race and the rise of the BNP.
Claire Fox News, 18 Doughty Street TV, 30 April 2007

An open debate on open borders:reply to Stephen Castles
'Restrictions at the borders are growing ever tighter, and as the restrictions increase so does the price that people are forced to pay in order to enter Europe'
Liza Schuster, openDemocracy, 28 December 2003

Four falsehoods on UK immigration
An endorsement of the Lords' report on immigration
Martin Wolf, Financial Times, 3 April 2008

recommended by spiked

Who's afraid of human trafficking?
Nathalie Rothschild, 9 July 2007

Another million Eastern European immigrants?Let them in!
Neil Davenport, 23 August 2006

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