On Friday British Prime Minister David Cameron released new immigration policies designed to limit the influx of EU residents into the country. The measures aren’t outright caps but restrictions on state benefits offered to immigrants. They include a four year delay on eligibility for things like state-subsidized housing and a requirement that parents can only receive child welfare if they have brought their children with them to Britain. The WSJ:
The tougher stance appears to be aimed at appeasing those in his center-right Conservative Party who argue the increase in immigrants is straining public services, such as schools and housing, particularly as the government is cutting spending.Adding to the pressure is the small rival U.K. Independence Party, which is winning over some traditional Conservative voters with its tough-on-immigration message.
Some worry that the measures could spark a showdown with the EU at large, as some officials of other bloc countries are not happy with the restrictions. Cameron however has made Britain’s right to pass them as absolute, a commitment sure to be a point of contention if Cameron gets re-elected and follows through on his proposal to renegotiate the U.K.’s relationship with the E.U. It could even increase the likelihood of the U.K. leaving the EU altogether.But in the meantime, Cameron’s new restrictions represent at least an attempt to formulate exactly the kind coherent national policy on immigration the U.S. currently lacks. For all the controversy created by President Obama’s recently announced executive order, that order is not a step towards a coherent immigration stance, even a liberal one, but a sign of the chaos and confusion that has plagued immigration policy for years now. As WRM has noted, this is a “half-hearted, hobbled amnesty” that “doesn’t solve the underlying problems it addresses.” Whether you favor more restrictions, like the U.K. is moving towards, or a liberal immigration regime, the U.S. does not have a policy—and we need one.