Monday, March 5, 2012

UK side-stepping immigration cap

David Cameron, Prime Minister
Photo subject to Crown copyright
From a report in the Guardian on British companies using intra-company transfers to work around the government limits on immigration:
Figures from the Home Office's migration advisory committee show that the numbers coming to Britain under the "intra-company transfer" scheme have surged in the past two years and now outnumber those coming into Britain on work visas by three to one. The rise has rendered the cap on skilled overseas migrants redundant, with fewer than half the work visas available under the annual limit being used.
The UK government doesn't appear to have any problem with this, but that's largely because David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the UK, can now tell the voting masses that he's putting the brakes on immigration, while telling business that they can import anyone they want. He's not stupid: the UK, like much of Europe, needs skilled labor. Even if the public demands an end to immigration, business is still going to need workers capable of doing the job.

It's interesting, though, to see the British Tories flail around on this issue. The UK detested the Labour Party after years of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and the Tories managed to acquire power in a manner not dissimilar to the US Democrats: with a "we're not them" platform. It's hardly an inspiring platform and the free market Tories are running around trying to hand the keys of the kingdom over to CEOs and bankers (though not quite as blatantly as US Republicans). This has led to quite a bit of backlash against them and in a stunningly stupid move, the Tories have not only alienated much of the voting youth but also hurt their country's long-term economic prospects by jacking up university tuition rates at a time when students can least afford it. I suspect it's not a coincidence that their graduation rates are plummeting at the same time.

So the UK is technically making it harder for you to emigrate there, despite the fact that they need skilled labor (and skilled Labour, but I digress) more than ever, but the government is letting workers sneak in the side door because they really don't have a choice.

It's like the US state of Georgia gutting their economy in a bid to keep out illegal aliens. Georgia lost a billion dollars last year due to their anti-illegal alien fervor (almost 6% of their annual revenue) and are on track to lose $800 million a year and wreck their agriculture industry because — gasp! — immigration issues are complicated.

Sadly, trying to convince the general public to not support simple-minded solutions to complex problems seems a lost cause.