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- Author or Editor: Jill Rutter x
In most developed countries immigration policy is high on the political agenda. But what happens to migrants after their arrival – integration and social cohesion – has received less attention, yet these conditions matter to migrants and to wider society. Drawing on fieldwork in London and eastern England, Moving up and getting on is the first accessible, yet comprehensive, text to critique the effectiveness of recent integration and social cohesion policies and calls for a stronger political leadership. Written for those interested in public policy, the book argues that if the UK is to be successful in managing migration, there needs to be greater emphasis on the social aspects of integration and opportunities for meaningful social contact between migrants and longer-settled residents, particularly in the workplace.
The genesis of this book took place in the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London. I was sitting in court hearing a request to release a young Iraqi Kurd from long-term immigration detention. I was not aware of the background to the case, but as it progressed I was informed that the appellant had a criminal record. He had served a sentence for a sexual assault on a teenage girl. At the time I felt unsympathetic towards this man. Later, I talked to his solicitor and learned more about his life. He had arrived in the UK as a 19-year-old asylum-seeker and been dispersed to live in Home Office-commissioned accommodation in a northern city. Regulations meant that he was not allowed to work or attend college to improve his English. Nor was there advice and assistance available to him from non-governmental organisations or members of his own community, as he had been sent to live in an area where there were few refugees. He had no close friends and, unlike in his home country, he could not turn to members of his own community to broker a relationship or marriage. There was no one to guide his behaviour and provide the informal counselling that most of us receive from friends and family. A friendly conversation with a British woman was misinterpreted by him and he ended up in prison with a recommendation of deportation at the end of his sentence.
Of course, the young man bears responsibility for his actions.
Moving Up and Getting On is about migrant integration and how migrants impact on broader social cohesion. But migrants are a diverse group – in relation to their countries of origin, their routes into the UK, their experiences here and their long-term aspirations. For those concerned with integration and social cohesion, it is important to understand the nature of migration flows, as well as to look at migrants’ specific demographic and social characteristics as they may affect integration and social cohesion. This chapter provides this background.
The main sources of quantitative data about international migration flows into the UK are survey data and administrative data from the Home Office, for example, visa or asylum statistics.
Definitions of ‘migrant’ vary between different datasets, and also between datasets and immigration law. It is also important to remember that these differing definitions have consequences for the analysis of data on migration flows, as well as on public policy (Anderson and Blinder, 2014). For example, there is a strongly held belief among local government leaders that the main method of estimating migration flows into specific regions and overall flows into the UK – the International Passenger Survey - under-estimates the numbers of migrants because of the way it defines them.
The International Passenger Survey and the Labour Force Survey draw from the UN definition of a migrant as a person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year. Although international migration has always been a feature of life in the UK, both immigration and emigration have increased since the early 1990s as shown in Figure 2.
This chapter examines the development of integration and social cohesion policies. While its main focus is on the period after 1990, the chapter looks at the legacy of past policy. The chapter discusses the drivers of recent policy, which include increased immigration as well as concerns about religious extremism since the 11 September 2001 (United States) and 7 July 2005 (London) bombings. The chapter goes on to examine why policy on integration and social cohesion has proved difficult for governments, with reasons including a lack of conceptual clarity about these conditions, difficulties with cross-departmental working and the constraining effect of hostile public attitudes on the space for politicians to promote positive policy interventions.
Integration and social cohesion policy have a long history in the UK. One hundred years ago in 1914 and under another coalition government, over 250,000 Belgian refugees arrived in the UK in the wake of an advancing German army. They were billeted all over the UK, to cities as well as to rural areas, and initially an NGO – the War Refugees Committee – assisted these refugees. But by late 1914, the government took responsibility for them, with the Local Government Board being the lead department (Cahalan, 1982). Among its policies, it encouraged receiving communities to set up Belgian Refugee Committees to assist in the resettlement of the refugees. There were 2,500 committees of volunteers by 1916, and there has not been such broad public engagement with migrant reception since then.
Policy was led by senior civil servants, and at ministerial level by Walter Long, whose political epitaph largely comprised the successful integration of the Belgians.
In the UK, integration and social cohesion policy date back as far as policy to control immigration flows. In the late 19th century, for example, successive governments gave attention to the housing and employment conditions of Eastern European Jewish migrants, although the terms integration and social cohesion were not used at that time. These two words did not become part of the British policy lexicon until the early 21st century. While integration and social cohesion are now used extensively in government documents, both are contested concepts about which there is little clarity.
This chapter discusses the varying definitions of integration and social cohesion. It looks at how past events have shapedtoday’s confused and conflated meanings of these terms, and then argues for newer and clearer redefinitions.
The dictionary meaning of integration invokes a planned combination of two different parts into a well-functioning whole and is used in this context to describe processes such as organisational mergers. But it was not until the 1980s that the term was used to describe relations between migrants or minority ethnic groups and wider society. At this time, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees described local integration as one of the long-term solutions for refugee displacement. Soon after, integration for migrants (not just for refugees) was articulated as a policy objective of the EU. But contemporaneously in the UK, settlement was the preferred term to describe policies that aimed to improve the social and economic participation of migrants, as integration was felt to have connotations of the assimilationist social policies of the 1950s and 1960s that have been described in the previous chapter.
Integration policy needs to be informed by evidence, but policy makers in the UK are not always able to turn to research to inform their decisions – even if their political masters allow them to do so. There are many reasons for this, and just two such reasons are that big administrative datasets are not analysed from the perspective of integration and there is a lack of longitudinal data about migrants’ integration trajectories. There are also many gaps in knowledge.
Looking at both quantitative and qualitative data, this chapter reviews research on integration. It starts by examining the different types of evidence and, in doing so, discusses the methodological challenges of researching integration. The chapter then looks at evidence from a thematic perspective, arguing that these studies neglect the social worlds of migrants.
The chapter concludes with a discussion of how policy makers use research, and suggestions for improving the evidence base.
Alongside hundreds of quantitative datasets, there are thousands of academic articles, reports and books about migrant integration. These draw from different academic disciplines: sociology, anthropology, geography, social psychology, economics, social policy and political science. Reviewing this evidence requires categorisation, but such a sorting is difficult. The literature could be grouped thematically, into labour-market experiences, social relations and so on. Alternatively, research can be sorted conceptually, according to how authors understand integration. But it is worth starting with some methodological considerations and outlining the different types of evidence about integration, which can be broadly categorised as: (i) large datasets derived from the Census, surveys and administrative data, (ii) small-scale datasets, (iii) qualitative research and a small number of studies that have employed mixed methodologies and (iv) evaluations, ‘good practice’ literature and organisational information, for example, annual reports.
Employment affects the economic and social aspects of integration. Being in work ensures an income and the workplace is a site of social encounter, so employment is also a facilitator of the social aspects of integration. Returning to the definition of integration, employment is one of the facilitators of migrants’ social inclusion and well-being. This chapter analyses the labourmarket experiences of migrants, looking at their economic activity, income, occupational sector and social integration in the workplace.
Many migrants find work easily, but some groups, for example, refugees, are more likely to be unemployed or economically inactive. The second half of the chapter evaluates adult ESOL provision and welfare-to-work programmes, discussing the debate about mainstream and targeted support. While integration policy has acted on unemployment, it has not responded to the experiences of migrants who are in work, with many being trapped in low-paid jobs that offer few prospects of career advancement or opportunities for social integration. The chapter ends with areas for action: improved ESOL, a greater acknowledgement of the needs of migrants already in work and for policy makers to engage with employers.
While the majority of adult migrants are employed in the UK, there are some differences between them and the UKborn population in their labour-market experiences. Overall, migrants have a slightly lower employment rate than the UK1 born population. Some 71.5% of the working age (16–64) UKborn population were employed in the period January–March 2013, but for those born outside the UK, this figure was 66.4% (Table 6.1). However, this gap is partly a result of the inclusion of economically inactive overseas students in the statistics.
Children who are legally resident overseas nationals have the same rights to compulsory education as UK nationals and their educational experiences are an important aspect of the migrant-integration story in this country. This chapter examines this issue and argues that migrant children’s social-inclusion trajectories show an unevenness. For most children, attending school has equipped them with the resources they need for social integration. However, analysis of examination results shows patterns of under-achievement in some ethnic and national groups that will impact on children’s future employment and the economic aspects of their integration.
After reviewing the legacies of past policy, the chapter looks at educational provision in Peterborough and south London and at the varied school experiences of children of Nigerian, Polish and Somali ethnicity. Returning to the definition of integration as the capability of migrants to achieve social inclusion and wellbeing, the chapter argues that factors such as secure housing, fair school admissions practices and secure written-English skills are needed to ensure integration.
While schools have been admitting migrant children for many centuries, their needs were largely not considered by policy makers until after 1945, when growing numbers of urban schools started to receive the children of post-war migrants. As discussed in Chapter Three, by the late 1960s integration policy had started to shift away from assimilationist aims and towards policies that are now termed ‘multiculturalist’. Advocates of multicultural education had three broad aims: they sought to improve children’s English skills, alongside maintenance of their home language and culture. Multicultural education also explicitly recognised cultural diversity and aimed to prepare all children for life in a multi-ethnic society (Klein, 1996).
The previous chapters have highlighted the complexity of integration and the range of facilitators that are needed to ensure it, for both children and adults. This chapter examines the integration of two national groups: Portuguese in the east of England and Sri Lankan Tamils in London. It reviews the evidence about the social and economic aspects of their integration and looks at how policy can better support those who are being left behind, who include super-mobile Portuguese workers who engage in circular migration strategies.
A central argument of Moving Up and Getting On is that workplace experiences affect integration, and for some among the Portuguese and Sri Lankan Tamils, their present employment conditions have a negative impact on their future career progression and social lives. Integration policy, therefore, needs to consider migrants already in work and to engage with employers.
Portugal, with a present population of 10 million, has a long history of migration. Between 1850 and 1974 over 2.6 million people left Portugal, for Brazil, Portugal’s African colonies, the USA, Canada and later France and Germany (Anderson and Higgs, 1976; Nunes, 2003). Despite attempts to control emigration, one million people left Portugal in the 1960s alone, the majority of whom came from rural central and northern Portugal. Today, Portugal remains one of the poorest countries in Europe and has suffered badly in the recent recession, a factor that has driven further migration.
Until recently, the UK’s Portuguese community was small in comparison with those of France and Germany, comprising about 4,000 persons in 1975 (Barradas, 2005).
This chapter looks at the lives of irregular – undocumented – migrants in Lewisham and Southwark, examining their routes into irregularity and their survival strategies. Although varied in their social background, many irregular migrants are asylum or visa overstayers. Significantly, from the perspective of integration, they and their children manifest much higher levels of social exclusion than those with a legal immigration status. For those concerned with integration and immigration control, irregular migration is one of the most intractable challenges and one to which there are no easy answers. Enhanced border control and in-country document checks cannot prevent irregular migration, yet the space for amnesties or selective regularization programmes is limited by public concern and hostility toward irregular migrants. The chapter examines policy responses to irregular migration and makes an argument for extending the routes to regularisation, as well as local strategies to respond to this migrant group.
The terminology associated with irregular migration is often emotive and contested, with this group of people often being referred to in non-academic writing as illegal or undocumented immigrants. Finding a satisfactory definition for irregular migration is further complicated by the fact that routes into and out of ‘irregularity’ are complex and some of those who are termed irregular migrants may have been born in the UK.
It is important to remember, too, that irregular migration is an administrative condition, ascribed by the state, rather than an innate characteristic of a group of people.
The case of ‘Matthew’ illustrates the diversity of pathways in and out of irregularity. Originally from Zimbabwe, he entered the UK in 2000 with a student visa.