Immigration Trends — in Britain

A very peaceful, wonderful evening. It rained, rained, rained. Self spent all afternoon reclining on couch, watching Monk (2 episodes) and Law & Order SVU (3 episodes). She received only one call. It was very interesting watching the flag on the neighbors’ flagpole across the street: it fluttered back and forth, giving self a pretty good idea of the strength of the wind.

Anyhoo, self could have gone to Safeway. Or to Whole Foods. Instead, she read The Economist of Jan. 5- 11. And came across an interesting article on immigration. Self is tickled at the article’s use of British-isms like “spot on.” Here is how the article, titled “Open Up,” begins:

Enoch Powell had a point. The Conservative British politician gave warning, nearly four decades ago, that immigrants were causing such strife that “like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.” That proved to be nonsense, as did his advice that migrants should be encouraged to leave. Had they done so, Britain and other rich countries that depend heavily on foreign labour would be in a dreadful state. But one prediction he made was spot on: that by about now, one in ten people in Britain would be migrants. And indeed, at the last count, in 2005, the foreign-born made up 9.7 % of the British population.

By historical standards, that is high. It is a lot more than a decade ago, and the trend is resolutely upwards. Yet it is not dissimilar to that in many other rich countries, which have mostly seen equally rapid increases. And it is still lower than in America, where the proportion is now about 13 %, not far off the 15 % peak reached just before the first world war, in the previous great era of migration. What is particularly striking in Europe is that many countries which until recently had known only emigration, such as Ireland or Greece, are now seeing the sort of influx more typical of countries such as Australia and America.


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