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Immigration policy and social integration

June 8th 2018

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Immigration has been a hotly debated topic for many years.

This project looks at immigration in a Welsh context. It considers the possibility of a Welsh immigration policy and, importantly, the social integration in Welsh villages, towns and cities of people born outside of the UK.

Context

People coming to Wales to find work, to study or to join their families is nothing new. Thousands of people from different parts of the world immigrated to Wales, especially South Wales, during the 19th Century to work in coal and steel industries and in Wales’ docks, and they have continued to arrive for a variety of reasons.

As a member of the European Union, EU citizens have been free to move to Wales and the rest of the UK since 1992 – just as Welsh people have been free to retire to Spain if they wish. Citizens of other countries have had to comply with strict immigration and asylum policies if they wish to gain entry.

What is the problem?

All parts of Wales have experienced some increase in the number of people moving into the area from outside the UK. Even though the numbers of in-migrants are often very small, many people are concerned about immigration to their communities. As a result, immigration has become a top political issue, and was one of a number of concerns that articulated in the vote to leave the EU.

Brexit is likely to bring major changes to who can live, work or study in Wales.  EU citizens who live in Wales will have to seek permission to remain in the UK under the EU settlement scheme. The Immigration White Paper, published in December 2018. proposes that EU citizens who are not already resident will have to comply with the same immigration rules that apply to people elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether these proposals will change.

Changes to immigration policy have big implications for Wales. They will change who has the right to live, work, study or seek sanctuary here, which in turn affects the Welsh economy, public services, higher education and its future population.

Immigration also affects the cohesion of communities, with some migrants feeling excluded from Welsh life and experiencing harassment or abuse. Hate crime for racial or religious motives has increased substantially since 2016, and affects migrants no matter how long they have lived in Wales or their reasons for immigrating.

Aims

In this project we aim to:

  • increase understanding of the role and importance of immigration to Wales’ current and future population
  • Stimulate debate about the potential to devolve decisions over who can live, work, study or seek sanctuary in Wales
  • Develop practical policies and tools to increase community cohesion and inclusion.

This project is kindly funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Outputs

To date we have published the following papers:

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