Lionel Shriver Lionel Shriver

The myths around immigration


After the media bigged up the expiration of America’s Covid-era Title 42, which enabled the US to block entries into the country, the anticipated stampede across the southern border doesn’t seem to have occurred. No worries, then? Behold the miracle of social adaptation. Before the handy illegal immigrant ejection seat was retired last week, illegal entries from Mexico had risen to 11,000 per day – if sustained, more than four million per year, and that’s after 2.3 million southern border apprehensions last year. The record-breaking influx had already become a stampede, and apparently people can get used to anything.

As for why the ever-escalating surge of visitors for life, obviously loads of rational people would rather live in the US – or the UK – than in less agreeable locations. A better question is why they are allowed to.

The myth of inexorability. Americans and Britons alike have been told that the rapid transformation of their society is inevitable, the reduced clout of what we’re now meant to call the ‘settled’ inhabitants akin to a natural process, which mere governments can no more arrest than the tides or the rising sun. We’ve been conditioned to regard minority majorities later this century as our destiny. Yet Japan, Poland and Hungary constrain immigration through muscular public policy.

We needn’t either foolishly fling open the gates or callously slam them; there is a viable middle course

The myth of the ageing society. Oh, the ageing society is no myth, but the notion that only unrelentingly high rates of immigration can solve the subsequent support-ratio quandary is a fairy tale. Because immigrants also get old, we’d have to keep bringing in more to take care of the new old people. In 2010, Migration Watch calculated that to maintain the UK’s 2008 support ratio, we’d need to absorb foreigners ‘peaking at 1.2

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