PODCAST: Lionel Shriver discusses this column with Dr Remi Adekoya in our The Edition podcast. Listen here.
The Afghans the Home Office is scrambling to resettle in Britain present one of immigration’s most sympathetic cases: translators and other support workers for allied troops whose lives are potentially imperilled by Taliban revenge against collaborators. Councils are searching for big, many-bedroomed properties to rent or repurpose, as fleeing Afghan families can have a dozen members. The Home Secretary has offered to resettle 20,000 Afghans in due course.
Yet if history serves, we’ll soon see many more than 20,000 Afghans land on British shores, all of whom won’t necessarily have worked for Nato and few of whom will wait to be invited. Like those of nearly all immigrants, their stories are bound to be heart-breaking. Surely only a monster would deny such decent yet desperate people ‘a better life’. That’s the winning moral reasoning that has currently turned America’s southern border into no more than a notional scribble on a map.
In Britain, Migration Watch released two reports this summer whose key findings I will try to present as succinctly and neutrally as possible. In the past 20 years, foreign-born residents of the UK have doubled to nine million, going from 8 per cent to 14 per cent of the population. In tandem, the white British proportion of the population has fallen from 89 per cent to 79 per cent, while ethnic minorities have grown from 10 per cent to 21 per cent. Since 2001, 84 per cent of UK population growth has been due to immigrants and their children, rising to 90 per cent since 2017 — the majority non-EU.
More than a third of UK births now involve at least one foreign-born parent; in parts of London, 80 per cent of births are to foreign–born mothers.