Acceptance of Immigrants

Acceptance of immigrants is important both for the immigrants themselves and for the society which takes them in; they are not a threat.

Immigration is a controversial issue that has become politicised on both sides of the Atlantic.  It has featured strongly in recent American elections, for example, with the Economist publishing a leading article on How the border could cost Biden the electionIt argues that “Mr Biden should ..roll up his sleeves and set out to fix the border. That would be the right thing to do. It would also help his prospects.” 

Immigrants can be seen as a threat, especially in high numbers.  As noted earlier (, they change the character of a neighbourhoodSome immigration is inevitable, though, and there are strong arguments for accommodating it peacefully:

·      The economic impact of immigration can be perceived as a threat, and local problems can occur, but it results in economic growth – or is a consequence of it – if the immigrants find jobs, as has broadly been the case in Britain and America ( 

·      All religions and common decency enjoin tolerance towards others.  People have only to ask themselves how they would act in the same situation as the immigrants and how they would like to be treated. 

The acceptance of immigrants doesn't only require adjustments to be made by the host society.  The immigrants can take measures to help themselves:

·      It is understandable that new arrivals want to live near others from the same cultural community, but frictions will emerge if they form separatist enclaves that are divergent from the wider society.  These ultimately become a political problem (

·      Minorities are entitled to freedom of belief.  Immigrants should not be required to change their religion, but they may need to change some practices in order to comply with the host society’s laws, human rights and conceptions of socially-acceptable behaviour (4.4.2).  What may have been acceptable in their countries of origin might not be acceptable in the societies they have arrived in.  As described earlier, there are ways for people to resolve such problems and avoid giving offence (4.4.4). 

These are measures that the immigrants themselves can take, to make it easier for them to be accepted.

There are also practical problems, such as the need for housing and public services, which neither the local host community nor the immigrants can easily solve on their own.  Politicians ought to be able to ensure that these needs are met ( 


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(This is an archive of a page intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  The latest versions are at book contents).