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Essay Sample: UK Borders and Immigration

UK borders


The concepts of asylum and immigration have been very emotional. This is because of increasing public concern on these topics. Some persons wish to offer support to thousands of refugees who are seeking assistance. In contrast, there are also hardcore individuals who think asylum seekers and spouses are economic migrants. Hence, they should not be allowed to enter the country. They also base their argument on the lack of capacity by the state to sustain the increasing number of refugees.

            First, the essay will consider accusations that the UK government has been at the forefront of tainting immigration as one of the country’s problems. This perspective has resulted in the creation of restrictive policies. Besides, there is always a growing need to incorporate curbing measures to reduce the number of incoming refugees. These steps also seek to minimize the benefits that are available to spousal immigrants in the UK. Lack of control over the immigration policy is one of the issues that led to the exit from the EU. The movement of refugees has been associated with the rise of criminal activities. It is considered to be one of the factors that have led to social ills in the country. Finally, it will analyze whether this perspective has been hugely driven by politicians in order to urge support for restrictive policy-making.

            It will be argued that the law relating to the family settlement “has often been dominated by an overriding concern with preventing abuse and the entry of undesirable migrants.”[1] In essence, it will analyze the validity of this statement.

Historical Background

            It is critical to understand the history of UK immigration policy. This is because it will help in comprehending the current changes in the system. It is acknowledged that the themes that shape reforms in this sector are similar and have stood the test of time. The harsh legal provisions are often developed, removed, and thereafter reinstated. For example, in 1905, the Aliens Act introduced fines for carriers who transported unauthorized passengers to the UK. Later, in 1987, the Immigration Act on Carriers Liability stated that airlines that carry passengers who lacked full documents would be sanctioned.[2] This shows the revolving nature of laws in the immigration sector.

            Bevan outlines nine core themes that guide the UK immigration policy. They entail The Common Wealth, the essence of the European Community, lack of planning, bipartisan policy, international law, race relations, concern for civil liberties, the use of language, and the question of diversity or assimilation. These themes have evolved over the years. However, most of them are still essential during policymaking in the twenty-first century. There are also contemporary issues such as terrorism and asylum seeking.

            The government is a vital factor in shaping the ‘public opinion.’ In this case, it is influential on matters concerning immigration policy. Over time, diverse perspectives have emerged with respect to the character of applicants. Often, they will be treated with hostility and suspicion. Mass immigration is considered to be unprincipled, unclean, and unconventional. This results in the public rendering them unwelcome. Communities that have experienced discrimination include Jews, West Indians, and persons from Asia. In recent times, asylum seekers have faced similar fate due to harsh immigration policies.

            In all these cases, persons trying to enter the UK are accused of being dishonest.[3] They are also blamed for the loss of jobs in the country. Hence, native persons do not access employment. There are a few instances of solidarity, cultural exchange, economic contribution, welcome, and tolerance with regards to the treatment of immigrants. Majority of the population is hostile and prejudicial. They tend to disregard the actual social problems facing these people. The public’s attitude towards immigrants leads to the enactment of restrictive laws. Few legislations are based on integration policies. This phenomenon raises the question of the government’s role in influencing public opinion on essential topics.

            The Aliens Act 1905 laid down the basis for discrimination of immigrants. It resulted in the development of policies that are restrictive to immigration. The objective was to control the entry of persons to the UK. It commenced towards the end of the nineteenth century after the persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe. In this case, the group was a minority and had become a target of hostility and violence. In seeking refuge, they moved towards Western European countries such as England. However, the hatred against such persons extends beyond national boundaries. This explains why they were unwelcome upon entry in the UK. They were forced to live under poor working and housing conditions. There were also debates on whether the country should utilize their creativity and industry. The elongated discussion resulted in them living in a low social standard for a long time.

            Over-crowding in the settlement areas was not deal with instantly. In contrast, UK resorted to immigration control. The House of Lords was also instrumental in shaping the history of immigration policy. They argued that immigrants were lowering wages, did not work, participated in welfare provision, and taking up jobs.

            The accusations led to the setting up of a Royal Commission to investigate the impact of immigration in the UK. The Commission was to analyze whether there was a relationship between immigrants and the rise in the rate of crime, uncleanliness and spread of diseases. They also investigated concerns relating to the reduce accessibility to employment and housing. The findings showed there was no link between immigration and diseases, crime, and poverty. Besides, immigrants did not have an effect on the country’s working conditions and posed no threats to future and existing jobs. However, it still recommended a restrictive approach to the immigrant issue. Hence, the enactment of the Aliens Act 1905.

Arguments in Support of the Thesis Statement

            The twenty-first century is characterized by the passing of immigration and anti-terrorism statutes. The main goal of these laws is to restrict the movement and activities of foreign nationals in the UK. They entail provisions that exclude the right of appeal, limit the type of admissible evidence, and prohibits individuals from attaining immigration status. Concerns have also been raised with respect to the use of the Human Rights Act. This is because there has been less application in the making of immigration policies.

            A conflict between the judiciary and executive led to an attempt by the government to exclude courts from hearing matters related to immigration. They incorporated an ouster clause when drafting the Asylum and Immigration Bill 2003. In 2012, new rules were introduced to curb the involvement of judges in immigration cases that dealt with the application and interpretation of human rights. Moreover, the government has focused on security. The recent laws on immigration show an aspect of contradiction. For example, it supports the liberalization of measures but also has repressive and authoritarian rules. They also allow economic migration but restrict movement of asylum seekers. In contrast, they seek to achieve cultural diversity but do not integrate ethnic minorities.

            Over the years, the public’s interest has grown with regards to immigration law. Many individuals tend to lean towards the development of restrictive policies. In addition, they support the incorporation of a complex as well as a rigorous system during the evaluation of family members. The debates on these policies tend to lack a human rights perspective. This has often resulted in negative consequences during the implementation stage. In most cases, the rights of applicants will be grossly violated.

            Immigration laws have resulted in adverse impacts on certain social aspects. Mainly it has affected family life of persons who are not UK residents. Rules of admission of family members are often restrictive. Hence, it is difficult for one to migrate unless on the premise of parenthood and marriage relationship. The issue of family migration was first raised in the 1960s. UK nationals were concerned with the high number of family members being admitted from the Asian continent.

            Over the years, the numbers have reduced, but it still remains the largest area of origin for this type of migration. However, the practice is being adopted by family members from other regions. The countries that take part in spousal immigration are more than 70. The highest numbers are recorded from the US, China, Philippines, and South Africa. The immigration department also notes that the refusal rates based on spousal migration have increased in the countries mentioned above. This shows that measures are being put in place to reduce the number of people seeking to move to the UK. The grounds of refusal include a lot of reasons. However, ingenuity is the most cited one which asserts that most applicants are dishonest.

            Family migration is a problem for the government since it is difficult to control. The current admission framework is based on a value-based system. In essence, applicants are vetted with respect to their economic importance to the country. Furthermore, the guidelines take into account the country’s current and future interests. The admission of persons based on family relationships creates tension in the process. This is because it supersedes the existing criteria used to evaluate applicants. Its consequence is the approval of persons who do not meet the entry requirements. In this case, it will result in the admission of individuals who could not qualify.

            The family issue creates a dilemma in the formulation and implementation of immigration policies.[4] The government is enacting laws to manage the migration of persons to the country. In contrast, some persons are UK nationals or residents who want to reunite with their spouses and children. In most cases, the immigration department will uphold the former principle. They view it as a tool to control the number of persons coming to the country. However, there is a need to observe this practice from a human rights perspective. This will allow criticism and objective opinions on the family migration subject.      

Counter-arguments Against the Thesis Statement

            Human rights is a growing concern and have attracted the views of the public and intellectuals. The debate has allowed criticisms on immigration laws. The arguments support the suspension of legislation that leads to the violation of the rights of applicants. A good example is a holistic assessment of the outcomes of the Immigration Act 2014. In this scenario, the statute excluded the right of appeal to persons who want to review immigration decisions. The cases were placed under a category managed by the Internal Home Office administration. One of the challenges is that claims that are classified in this group have a low success rate.

            The Immigration Act provided a skewed mechanism to enable the government to deport foreign criminals. It is based on a principle known as, ‘deport first, appeal later.’ The law has led to the deportation of close to 1500 people. The Immigration Bill 2015/2016 is also characterized by a lack of consideration for human rights. It cements the practice of deporting individuals without providing them with their right to appeal.

            The Immigration Act of 2014 led to the creation of a hostile environment for non-nationals. Moreover, the Immigration Bill 2015/2016 extends this menace. The objective of these provisions is to deport persons who have not been granted immigration permission to stay in the UK. The two legislations will result in many disadvantages. One of the measures incorporated in these statutes is that it provides a framework for landlords to act as immigration enforcers. They will enjoy the privilege of ‘landlord checking’ or ‘right to rent.’ The primary objective of this rule is to prohibit renting for persons with no immigration permission in the country. Both the Act and the Bill provide for specific exceptions to this rule. However, its role was to ensure that landlords are responsible for their tenants. In essence, they have a civic duty to check their immigration status. Failure to do so, they will be liable for a penalty.

            Another provision in the Act is that it made it illegal for individuals without immigration permission to drive in the UK. In addition, it will be considered a crime for such a person to hold a driving license. These individuals are also prohibited from opening and holding a bank account. Measures were put in place to enable the freezing or closing of such accounts without notice. The Act legalizes the eviction of tenants following the order of the Secretary of State. Cases of discrimination and mistakes are rampant when dealing with immigrants. The hostile environment developed by the Act makes it difficult for non-residents to enjoy fundamental human rights.

            One of the issues that have been raised concerning the UK’s immigration policy is the precarious principle. The theory has been misused to the disadvantage of persons seeking permission to enter into the country. In this case, individuals’ immigration status is considered to be precarious if they have limited leave. However, some persons enjoy legitimate expectations that entitle them to an extension. These individuals cannot claim their right if the state fails to approve their immigration status. In contrast, their application will be reviewed in accordance with the new rules that are in force. Applicants often are not able to predict the consequences of these laws. Hence, their stay in the UK is faced with a high risk of termination.


            The above problem shows the need to make reforms in immigration law. The changes will be based on addressing issues related to human rights. For example, they should facilitate the reunion of siblings in the UK. It should also put in place measures to remove the Detained Fast Track system. This framework allowed applicants to be detained during the process of making a claim. However, the conditions provided were unfavourable for one to make a successful preparation.[5]      

            In my view, the current framework does not entitle anyone to seek refuge in the UK. It was developed with the aim of frustrating applicants. In addition, it leaves them exposed to infringement during and after the application process. Another aspect of the new laws is the integration of the value system. In this case, persons are evaluated based on their skills and talents. This criterion is against human rights approaches that seek to protect the life and dignity of an individual. It is noted that many applicants are not economic migrants. In essence, they do not enter the country to fulfill their financial needs and aspirations. In contrast, most of them need to reunite with their family members. This is because they have been forced to stay apart from their children and spouses. Hence, they require psychological aid and not financial assistance.        

            Socio-cultural issues emerge when dealing with the concept of family migration. One of the reasons is perceived differences in customs and values between the host country and that of the immigrant. It also extends to different practices such as child-rearing and marriage. Individuals from other countries might have a distinct understanding of the concept of family, responsibilities, and individual freedom. Policies that are currently in place seek to prevent the entry of undesirable persons and abusive individuals. However, the topic of marriage and children raises emotional concern with respect to the reunion of these families.

            Laws also aim at avoiding practices such as arranged and forced marriages. This phenomenon is common among South Asian communities. It is noted that individuals tend to marry persons from their area of origin.[6] This has led to the issue of chain migration and the need to control it. It has also increased the number of unskilled migrants; some of them are non-English-speaking. This type of immigration tends to pose a risk in the erosion of British family culture. This is because they can bring up oppressive and archaic practices in the marriage.


            Policies formulated concerning family settlement ‘have often resulted in the prevention of the entry of undesirable and abusive migrants.’ It is vital to understand the UK’s history of migration. The Aliens Act 1905 sets a precedent for the adoption of restrictive policies. The laws do not take into account other factors during its enactment and implementation. For instance, it focuses on the public’s perception of migration. This view is tainted with misconceptions about immigration. In many cases, spouses, refugees, and asylum seekers are considered to be economic migrants. They are also treated with the perception that most of them are liars.

            The law on immigration is significant in the admission and settlement of immigrants. It also is essential for political figures to shape people’s mindset with respect to the movement of persons. Hence, it will be easy to consider adopting a migration policy that is not restrictive. Besides, it will promote a culture of welcoming immigrants. This will also have a positive effect on the public’s attitude towards family migration.




Clayton G Firth, Textbook On Immigration and Asylum Law (Oxford University Press 2014)

Clayton G, 'Review: UK Asylum Law and Policy: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives' (2005) 18 Journal of Refugee Studies

Gibney M, 'Asylum and The Expansion of Deportation in The United Kingdom' (2008) 43 Government and Opposition

Giner C, 'The Politics of Childhood and Asylum in The UK' (2007) 21 Children & Society

Peers S, 'Human Rights, Asylum and European Community Law' (2005) 24 Refugee Survey Quarterly

Wray H, 'An Ideal Husband? Marriages of Convenience, Moral Gate-Keeping and Immigration to The UK' (2006) 8 European Journal of Migration and Law





[1] Gina Clayton and Georgina Firth, Textbook On Immigration and Asylum Law (Oxford University Press 2014).

[2] Gina Clayton, 'Review: UK Asylum Law and Policy: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives' (2005) 18 Journal of Refugee Studies.

[3] Steve Peers, 'Human Rights, Asylum and European Community Law' (2005) 24 Refugee Survey Quarterly.

[4] Clotilde Giner, 'The Politics of Childhood and Asylum in The UK' (2007) 21 Children & Society.

[5] Matthew J. Gibney, 'Asylum and The Expansion of Deportation in The United Kingdom' (2008) 43 Government and Opposition.

[6] Helena Wray, 'An Ideal Husband? Marriages of Convenience, Moral Gate-Keeping and Immigration to The UK' (2006) 8 European Journal of Migration and Law.

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