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Immigration policy and social integration

June 8th 2018

Immigration has been a hotly debated topic for many years, more recently playing a huge role in the vote to leave the European Union.

Brexit and a much anticipated White Paper from Westminster on the future of immigration after Brexit is around the corner. We want to look at immigration in a Welsh context, the possibility of a Welsh immigration policy and, importantly, social integration in Welsh villages, towns and cities.

Migration in Wales

People immigrating to Wales to access job or learning opportunities is nothing new. Thousands of people from different parts of the world immigrated to Wales, especially South Wales, during the 19th Century.

More recently, the matter of migration played a significant part in the EU referendum in June 2016, with many Welsh voters expressing that immigration was one of the main reasons for them voting to leave the EU. In 2016/17, net migration in Wales stood at 9,676 people and is higher in Cardiff (3,388), Swansea (1,845) and Gwynedd (831) than elsewhere in Wales.

Why Migration?

Some communities in Wales have experienced very rapid recent increases in immigration, whether for work, study, to join family or for protection. The public policy response to this increase in immigration has been patchy. The Welsh Government’s Cohesion Plan is partial, and is now out of-date, with its ‘migrant worker welcome pack’ being more than ten years old.

With higher immigration to some areas of Wales, it is important to focus on community integration and insuring that migrants living in Wales receive the support and access to services they need. It is important that people, whatever their background, feel part of and safe in their local areas. That everyone in our local communities share the same opportunities, responsibilities and rights.

Additionally, the Welsh Government’s first statement on migration policy in 2017 was very general, focusing largely on linking EU migration with employment and has since generated very little comment. Migration is currently not devolved, therefore it is important to consider whether Wales would benefit from its own immigration policy.

As migration is such an important, and currently uncertain matter with sporadic attempts to develop immigration and community integration policies. Using a human rights based approach we will work over the next 18 months to firstly, open the debate around and work on an immigration policy for Wales and secondly, develop policies and practices to increase integration within communities in Wales.

This project is kindly funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

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