6.7.8.3 Managing Population Movements

As people increasingly move around the world, whether they are driven by economic factors (3.4.3.1) or as refugees from oppression, they have an impact on the neighbourhood they arrive in.  Politicians need to be visibly managing the flows of people, ensuring that there are adequate public services and addressing the impact of cultural change – and doing so on a localised basis.

The liberal ideals, of free movement and equality of treatment, are in tension with people’s concerns about immigrants: taking jobs, needing houses and using public services such as health and education.  Local people would probably feel better if there were a visible mechanism of control, even if immigrants are eventually admitted after due process.  The existence of a process would legitimise acceptance of the newcomers.  Existing inhabitants would have an additional reason for valuing their citizenship (6.7.3.3), because they would see that the benefits that they enjoy are not just casually given to anyone.

A system of residence permits, such as that described in the “Guide to French visas and permits,  can enable local government to ensure that incomers can support themselves; it would also enable a check to be made that there is adequate housing, infrastructure and public services for them.  The French residence permit (carte de séjour) required for non-EU citizens wishing to stay in France for more than 3 months contains these requirements:

“…you have to go to the local préfecture and apply for a renewable residence permit.  You may have to provide details of your family situation, financial resources, health insurance, proof of your address in France and an employment contract.”

Reference has already been made to cultural evolution (4.2.5), and the gradual shift in cultural values as new arrivals are absorbed into the existing population.  Instant communication across the Internet has also enabled changes in attitude to be spread right across the world.  Some people find these cultural changes unsettling and, as examined in the next sub-section (6.7.8.4), there are risks of political problems if people’s concerns are not addressed.

Some of the principles involved in addressing the cultural pluralism were identified earlier: responding to the needs of immigrants (6.7.4.1), ensuring equal political treatment of all ethnic groups (6.7.4.8), and a policy of inclusivity in education (6.7.4.9).  At a practical level, these policies need to be visibly implemented in the local areas most affected.

Central funding needs to be made available to localities which have to accommodate large numbers of incomers, so that public services can be expanded; local politicians should use the appropriate mechanisms to initiate action (6.7.8.1).  Most of the thinking and writing about immigration has been at a national level, which is where border controls can be applied, but policies for absorbing the immigrants need to be localised to be effective.  The problems are radically different in Dover (where refugees might arrive), London (which has a rich history of successfully absorbing immigration) and East Anglia (where immigration is necessary to pick fruit but there is now Fear and anger in once-wealthy town divided by insecurity and immigration).

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This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3a book, © PatternsofPower.org, 2020.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6783ahtm