One of the key issues in the General Election last year, and Brexit now, is around immigration to the UK. All of the focus that I hear in the media is only about migration from inside the EU, and I only rarely hear about it from outside.
According to the ONS, in the quarter to May 2015:
- Immigration of EU (non-British) citizens was 268,000.
- Immigration of non-EU citizens was 290,000.
According to Dustmann and Fratini (2013), with significant assumptions, migrants that come to the UK from outside the EEA (slightly different scope) cost the UK economy significantly more than their EEA counterparts:
The total fiscal impact of EEA migrants in the UK was close to GBP + 8.8 billion per year (an average of close to GBP + 0.6 billion per year). The total fiscal impact of non-EEA migrants [was close to] GBP -6.5 billion per year.
Many of the leave-the-EU campaigners, most vehemently UKIP in the election, cited that the cause of the high number of immigrants was because the EU prevents us from selecting migrant applications.
Can the UK, even as EU members, exert control over the immigration of people from outside the EU? Could we introduce a points system for them that Mr Farage suggests, and still allow EU freedom of movement?
Given that one argument for reducing immigration is a supposed negative impact on the UK economy, why does the focus not shift to increasing EEA immigration with their net positive impact, and reducing non-EEA?