The Prime Minister wants good immigration not mass immigration. As soundbites go that's pretty catchy but like all soundbites it skates over the real challenge. Take Matthew and Francesca who've both applied for permission to stay in this country. There's a fair amount of common ground between them:-
- They came to the UK from outside Europe.
- They experienced personal trauma in their childhoods.
- They speak good English.
- They've worked hard and paid their taxes.
- They have significant family ties in this country.
- They've done their best to integrate.
- They have uncertain career prospects in their "home" countries.
The differences in their stories are equally striking. Francesca came to take a masters degree in a professional discipline in which she'd already been awarded a first degree. Matthew came to escape political and ethnic tensions which sometimes erupt into life threatening violence.
Francesca was awarded her masters and moved into the first phase of her working career. This requires her to take a series of junior jobs for a couple of years to build up her practical experience. To further her career she also undertook voluntary work for charities operating in the sector. Matthew isn't fortunate enough to have had Francesca's educational opportunities. He had several casual jobs before he found semi-skilled work in a factory.
Although the government recognises a national shortage of professionals in Francesca's field her efforts to build a career were derailed when the interim immigration cap was introduced last July. She'd been careful to get the right visa's and stay within the law but one prospective employer withdrew its offer because of the cap and others wouldn't consider her because of the hoops they'd have to jump through. At about the same time Matthew's path also changed direction. He gave up his job to look after his baby son and to bring himself within the law; he came to the UK illegally and his working here was unlawful.
So, two bright and engaging young people trying to develop and improve their lives. Their applications have just been decided. One has been granted permission to remain. One has been told to leave. But which is which?