Migration – what to expect in 2016

The predictions for 2016 suggest a continuation of humanitarian crisis, politicised statistics and poorly-conceived policy responses


Migration has remained a headline issue throughout 2015. Next year, with an impending EU referendum, this is unlikely to change. So what aspects of migration can we expect to make the news in 2016?

The humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean will continue, with loss of life and appalling reception facilities in southern and eastern Europe. While the number of boat people has dropped a little this winter, when spring arrives numbers are likely to increase.

A move towards peace in Syria and Iraq may cause numbers to fall, although it is important to remember that the desperate conditions faced by these refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan – countries of first asylum – are a contributing factor in the decision to flee to Europe.

Italy, Greece, Hungary and Germany are bearing much of the responsibility for supporting refugees. While there are moves to resettle 160,000 people in need of refugee protection from Italy and Greece to other EU countries, the number of people moved so far is tiny. The UK has opted out of this programme.

We can also expect more closed borders within the EU’s Schengen zone and more border fences. There is unlikely to be much change in the situation in Calais and other channel ports. Overall, there are few hopeful indicators of greater European cooperation on asylum and migration.

In the UK, it is unlikely that there will be many changes to the numbers and types of people entering and leaving the UK. Events outside the UK may cause asylum numbers to increase a little, but it is important to remember that asylum-seekers only make up a tiny proportion of those entering the UK – 29,000 in the year to September 2015, compared with 168,000 work visas and 214,000 study visas issued over the same period.

The quarterly immigration statistics will still be their ritual of claim and counter-claim, and the government will still be far from its target to reduce net migration – immigration minus emigration – to the tens of thousands. With George Osborne in the ascendancy, there is some suggestion that international students from outside the EU will be removed from the net migration target. This makes sense as most of them leave anyway, and present policies put this valuable export market at risk.

David Cameron will continue to push for EU reforms, including the restrictions on in-work benefits for EU migrants. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, has indicated a February deadline for this negotiations. It is uncertain whether a face-saving solution can be negotiated by Cameron. Whatever the outcome of talks with Brussels, migration will be exploited mercilessly by those who want Brexit, including a declining and perhaps more desperate UKIP.

Given this backdrop, it is unlikely that immigration will drop as an issue of public concern. Ipsos MORI’s monthly tracker recorded a record 49 per cent of people citing this issue as the most important issue facing Britain.

Negative public opinion risks ill-considered political responses, designed to sound tough, but destined to fail, thus further damaging public trust in the ability of politicians to manage migration. This vicious circle has characterised the politics of migration over the last 20 years, under Labour, the coalition and the Tories.

It is certainly reflected in the current Immigration Bill. Many of its clauses focus on clamping down on illegal working, and obliging landlords to make repeat checks on tenants. But many of these enforcement measures assume a well-resourced Home Office. In reality the Home Office has seen large cuts to its budget. Without funding, the enforcement clauses risk being tough talk that is designed to fail.

The Immigration Bill also contains some nasty and little publicised clauses that extend ‘deport first, appeal later’ procedures to all human rights cases, not just those of foreign national prisoners. This could put victims of human trafficking at risk of removal. The Bill also aims to remove support from refused asylum-seekers with children, putting local authority social workers, with duties towards child protection in a difficult situation.

The predictions for 2016 suggest a continuation of humanitarian crisis, politicised statistics and poorly-conceived policy responses. But there will be good news. The Syrian evacuation from the Middle East will continue and by all accounts these refugees are receiving a warm welcome.

Migrants and refugees will continue to arrive and leave, and continue to contribute to the economic and social life of this country, just as they have always done so. These everyday stories of nurses, musicians, professors, production line workers, and our friends and neighbours rarely make the news.        

Jill Rutter is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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13 Responses to “Migration – what to expect in 2016”

  1. Sky Pixie

    Cooper will continue to demand a doubling of any government refugee resettlement target.
    The Labour leadership will continue to ignore immigration (and integration of 2nd /3rd generation immigrants) as an issue, unfortunately giving ground to UKIP
    Immigration from the EU will continue due to the better prospect of better paid jobs and no controls
    Asylum applicants deported while their cases are investigated will be able to live in their home country, and if they have to pay the costs they will lose interest in coming to the UK
    Automatically deporting criminals at the end of their sentences will be popular enough to fend off the hand wringing (see minimum income rule)
    Merkels four months opening the door will distroy the EU ever closer union pact and Europe’s acceptance of immigration as crime and costs increase significantly
    Increasing intolerance of dissent in the Labour party as it tries to make policy consistent with justice and equality yet supporting and supported by religious and tribal based bigotry
    Happy Winterval!

  2. Rallan

    Whatever the outcome of talks with Brussels, migration will be exploited mercilessly by those who want Brexit, including a declining and perhaps more desperate UKIP.

    Wishful thinking.

    UKIP has been the 3rd highest polling party in Britain for years now, and its poll rating has not declined since the general election. All of the issues represented by UKIP are growing in urgency, donations are increasing again, membership is growing again and the EU referendum which UKIP provoked is coming soon.

    Until the referendum is done the UKIP brand will take a back seat as they’ll be focused on the Leave campaign. After that (either way) UKIP will be pushing hard again.

  3. Brad JJ

    Migration? It is an invasion in slow motion. Or form of neo-colonialism? First the invasion, then the cradle’s revenge.

  4. Sid


  5. Sid

    Then Sharia Law.

    The islamification of the UK continues.

  6. CGR

    What about the cultural costs of uncontrolled immigration & thousands of refugees entering europe and the UK ?

  7. Thanks Tank

    Given the ever growing crisis that this is causing I think Ukip are going to grow quickly in the next 5 years.

    The working class has no one that will listen to it.

  8. Thanks Tank

    Don’t you like genital mutilation or suicide bombing, stagnating wages, divided towns, extreme religious views, homophobia etc.

    How racist of you.

  9. Intolerant_Liberal

    ‘The working class has no one that will listen to it.’

    You are dead right. The working class have been abandoned in the UK, and the Left and Right resent anyone and anything that values working class people, unless they are from other countries, or escaping some disaster in some dusty far away place. We should have compassion for those escaping the chaos of Syria and there should be a Europe wide solution to help those people. But what angers me, and confuses me, and I expect many other educated working class people is that the ‘concern’ shown for EVERYONE BUT THE WORKING CLASS IN THE UK seems almost pathological and pernicious. Why are immigrants rights and the rights of ethnic minorities in the UK almost promoted AT THE EXPENSE OF THE WHITE WORKING CLASS???? WHY WILL THE LIBERAL LEFT, ON HERE AND EVERYWHERE ELSE, NEVER ACCEPT THAT CLASS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WHITE WORKING CLASS PEOPLE IS THE BIGGEST ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM? Why is there no mention of class discrimination on this website? I can only conclude that class discrimination isn’t an issue for the mostly middle class people who contribute and are paid to write on this site. Prove me wrong. But I won’t hold my breath.

    The refusal to accept class discrimination in the UK actually promotes economic and other unfair divisions for ALL those marginalised at the bottom, makes all the other middle class concerns look hollow. Until the Labour party and the Left in general tackles the class issue in this country, you will not get voted for. By all means challenge racism and sexism, but accept that class discrimination is a major problem, too. And let’s have more working class people in politics and perhaps on this website, too…

  10. Bigmassivepizza

    Because that’s all Them Foreigns do.


  11. Bradley B.

    The walk-in invasion will continue as the liberal-left destroys itself by supporting the agency of its destruction.

    Their message is clear: ”We are the supporters of Modernity. And that is why we want millions of people who hold Modernity in contempt to come to Europe. We are idiots.”

  12. Thanks Tank

    The shout remains No Pasarán to the migrant horde.

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