Immigration in Britain: A History
It is no secret that Britain has always been attractive to immigrants from all over the world. The reasons for this are numerous and range from political to economic ones. The country has always been one of the leaders in terms of technological development and its economy has always been strong, making it a desirable destination for those seeking a better life. In addition, Britain has always been a country of freedom and democracy, which has made it appealing to many who have come from dictatorships or countries with limited civil rights.
However, despite its long history of immigration, Britain is not without its challenges when it comes to race relations. The issue of immigration is a controversial one in the UK, with different people holding different opinions on the matter. Some believe that immigration is essential for the country’s economy and way of life, while others believe that it puts too much strain on resources and leads to racism and social tension.
In this paper, we will take a look at the history of immigration in Britain, as well as the current situation. We will also discuss the issue of racism and social tension in relation to immigration, and try to find possible solutions to these problems.
2. The history of immigration in Britain
The first immigrants
The first settlers in Britain were actually not English at all, but were Celts who came over from mainland Europe around 500 BC. However, it was the Roman invasion of 43 AD that really brought large numbers of foreigners into Britain. The Romans were not only soldiers, but also artisans, businessmen and farmers, and they settled in Britain in large numbers. It is estimated that by the time the Romans left Britain in 410 AD, there were around 100,000 foreigners living in the country.
The next significant wave of immigration came with the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century AD. The Anglo-Saxons were originally from Germany, Holland and Denmark, and they settled in England, Scotland and Wales. It is estimated that by the time of the Domesday Book (1086), around half of England’s population were Anglo-Saxons.
The post-war immigration
The next major influx of foreigners came after World War II (1939-1945). At this time, many people from Commonwealth countries such as India, Pakistan and Jamaica came to Britain to work in factories or as part of the National Health Service (NHS). In 1948, the British government passed the Nationality Act, which gave citizenship to all Commonwealth citizens living in the UK. This Act made it much easier for Commonwealth citizens to migrate to Britain.
In 1962, another Act was passed which further eased restrictions on Commonwealth migration. This Act resulted in an increase in migration from Commonwealth countries, particularly from India and Pakistan. By 1971, there were around 1.2 million people from Commonwealth countries living in Britain. This period also saw an increase in migration from other parts of Europe, particularly from Ireland and Italy. In total, it is estimated that around 3 million people migrated to Britain between 1945 and 1970.
This increase in migration put strain on housing and public services such as healthcare and education. In response to this strain, the British government introduced a system of quotas for Commonwealth migrants in 1962 This system meant that only a certain number of people from each Commonwealth country could migrate to Britain each year.
In 1968, another Act was passed which abolished the quotas and made it easier for Commonwealth citizens to obtain British citizenship. This Act resulted in an even higher number of Commonwealth migrants coming to Britain. In 1971, there were around 1.2 million Commonwealth citizens living in the UK. By 1981, this number had risen to 2.5 million.
3. The current immigration situation in Britain
UK immigration policy: the quotas and the points-based system
The UK’s current immigration policy is based on a points-based system, which was introduced in 2008. Under this system, migrants from outside the European Union (EU) must score a certain number of points in order to be granted a visa to live and work in the UK. Points are awarded for factors such as age, qualifications and work experience.
The points-based system has led to a significant decrease in migration from Commonwealth countries such as India and Pakistan. In 2010, the British government also introduced a limit on the number of non-EU migrants who could come to the UK each year. This limit is called the annual Migration Cap and is currently set at 20,700 per year.
Racism and social strain
Despite the fact that immigration has been a feature of British life for centuries, it is still a controversial issue. Some people believe that immigration is essential for the country’s economy and way of life, while others believe that it puts too much strain on resources and leads to racism and social tension.
There have been a number of racist incidents in Britain in recent years, including the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and the 7/7 bombings in 2005. These incidents have led to a increase in racial tension in the UK. In addition, a number of far-right political parties, such as the British National Party (BNP), have gained support in recent years by campaigning against immigration.
The issue of immigration is also often used as a way to divide society. For example, during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016, many Leave voters said that they wanted to leave the EU because they wanted to reduce immigration. This showed that some people see immigration as a threat to their way of life and their jobs. It also showed that some people are willing to use immigration as a political tool to further their own agendas.
In conclusion, it is clear that immigration has always been a part of British life and will continue to be so in the future. However, it is also clear that there are some challenges when it comes to race relations in Britain. These challenges include racism and social tension, which can be caused by immigration. Despite these challenges, it is important to remember that most immigrants come to Britain for a better life and contribute positively to society.
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