This week we discuss points based immigration systems and why they're not the best idea.. but more importantly why the aim of the UK's new one will not be fairness and merit.

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That is not it chief

Points Bases Immigration Systems

Points based systems always confused me because I thought markets were good, no? At least that's what I was told... The concept of points based systems come from Australia and Canada, which both prior to their points based system had a very heavy "white person" bias... which the points system was meant to eliminate... Enter Brexit - the premise of this part of the Brexit promise relies on either of 2 things: - People either didn't know the UK had a points based system for outside of the EU people already... or that the EU somehow affected that system - People saw the EU migration as the problem?

So eh, what do they want?

These two articles summarise it relatively well, the former being easier to skim:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48785695
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-policy-statement/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-policy-statement

Effectively it's a pretty complicated way of assessing people and they seem to think they can come up with exemptions for everything that's a problem...

Wait they already have this system for non-european people?

Yeah, and it's a bit of a mess. There's a quote from the Labour immigration minister that introduced it:

“There’s something deep in the British psyche about the Australian system,” says Mr Byrne. But points-based immigration regimes look most attractive from a distance. The countries that invented them concluded some time ago that they are flawed, and have tweaked them radically. They have also discovered that points systems do not completely cure xenophobia.

https://www-economist-com.libproxy.kcl.ac.uk/international/2016/07/07/whats-the-point

"butchers and ballet dancers were given special treatment and footballers were not required to speak English."

because suddenly once you have points, qualifications, language requirements, earnings caps things become a mess and you have a full team of policy people working out the exceptions in perpetuity

They're setting the bar high to reduce numbers, not introduce merit

Theresa May closed several of the "tiers" in the UK system as Home Secratary in order to try bring down numbers. Students post study and a general non-employment offer dependent route was closed.

The old system also has a "low-skilled" route which was never implemented because the EU freedom of movement rules meant they just didn't need it... the proposed system doesn't replace that with anything.

In the endless tinkering needed to make these creaking systems work in Canada for example found they had to bring in a seasonal worker exception which ended up being... exploitative wage wise (they were allowed pay them below minimum wage).

"Australia Style" in particular focus group's well so its getting used, but this proposal is not Australia's system (which is bad in many ways) but allows for more net migration than the UK is aiming for (https://www.ft.com/content/c1b8471c-296b-11e6-8ba3-cdd781d02d89).

What would be less awful?

Well... freedom of movement in the EU solved a lot of these problems and didn't create unnecessary bureaucracy which hurt people (at least those from the EU).

but we're not getting that so...

  • Make a moral case for migration
  • Something I think free marketers and the left can get on board with is very lax immigration for economic benefit (insert rainbow emoji here)