4.4.7.4 Accepting Immigrants

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/4474.htm)

Although immigrants can be seen as a threat, there are strong arguments for accepting them:

  • They aren’t a real threat to their neighbours provided that they speak the language, behave acceptably and obey the law.
  • 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 (3.4.3.3).
  • 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.

These arguments should be used by moral leaders in the majority community, to persuade people to behave well towards immigrants.

It is in immigrants’ own interests to try to integrate with the host society and avoid conflict:

  • It is understandable that people 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 (6.6.3.4).
  • 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 (6.7.4.1).

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