Barriers to immigration come not only in legal form; natural barriers to immigration can also be very powerful. Immigrants when leaving their country also leave everything familiar: their family, friends, support network, and culture. They also need to liquidate their assets often at a large cost, and incur the expense of moving. When they arrive in a new country this is often with many uncertainties including finding work, where to live, new laws, new cultural norms, language or accent issues, possible racism and other exclusionary behavior towards them and their family. These barriers act to limit international migration: scenarios where populations move en masse to other continents, creating huge population surges, and their associated strain on infrastructure and services, ignore these inherent limits on migration.
1.4. Supporting arguments
The main arguments cited in support of immigration are economic arguments, such as a free labor market, and cultural arguments appealing to the value of cultural diversity. Some groups also support immigration as a device to boost small population numbers, like in New Zealand and Canada, or, like in Europe, to reverse demographic aging trends.
Support for fully open borders is limited to a minority. Some free-market libertarians believe that a free global labor market with no restrictions on immigration would, in the long run, boost global prosperity. There are also groups which oppose border controls on ideological grounds - believing that people from poor countries should be allowed to enter rich countries, to benefit from their higher standards of living. Others are advocates of world government and wish to eliminate or severely limit the power of nation-states. This includes the nation-state's ability to grant and deny individuals entry across borders, which advocates of world government generally view as arbitrary and unfair distinctions made on what should be one planet earth, thus eliminating diversity and competition among states.
Countries like New Zealand, which has experimented with both qualifications- and job-offer-based entry systems, have reported that under the latter system (where much weight is put on the immigrant already having a job offer), the immigrants actually show a much lower uptake of government benefits than the normal population. Under a mostly qualification-based system, many highly trained doctors and engineers had instead been reduced to driving taxis.
1.5. Opposing arguments
The main anti-immigration themes include costs of immigration (potential free-riding on existing welfare systems), labor competition; environmental issues (the impact of population growth); national security (concerns of insular immigrant groups & terrorism against the host country); lack of coordination & cooperation among citizens (differences of language, conventions, culture); and the loss of national identity and culture (including the nature of the nation-state itself).
Immigration from areas of high incidence is thought to have fueled the resurgence of tuberculosis (TB), chagas, hepatitis, and leprosy in areas of low incidence. To reduce the risk of diseases in low-incidence areas, the main countermeasure has been the screening of immigrants on arrival. According to CDC, TB cases among foreign-born individuals remain disproportionately high, at nearly nine times the rate of U.S.-born persons. In 2003, nearly 26 percent of foreign-born TB patients in the United States were from Mexico. Another third of the foreign-born cases were among those from the Philippines, Vietnam, India and China, the CDC report said.
The history of HIV/AIDS in the United States began in about 1969, when HIV likely entered the United States through a single infected immigrant from Haiti.
Economic needs-driven immigration is opposed by labor-market protectionists, often arguing from economic nationalism. The core of their arguments is that a nation's jobs are the 'property' of that nation, and that allowing foreigners to take them is equivalent to a loss of that property. They may also criticize immigration of this type as a form of corporate welfare, where business is indirectly subsidized by government expenditure to promote the immigration and the assimilation of the immigrants. A more common criticism is that the immigrant employees are almost always paid less than a non-immigrant worker in the same job, and that the immigration depresses wages, especially as immigrants are usually not unionized. Other groups feel that the focus should be not on immigration control, but on equal rights for the immigrants, to avoid their exploitation.
Non-economic opposition to immigration is closely associated with nationalism, in Europe a 'nationalist party' is almost a synonym for 'anti-immigration party'.
The primary argument of some nationalist opponents in Europe is that immigrants simply do not belong in a nation-state which is by definition intended for another ethnic group. France, therefore, is for the French, Germany is for the Germans, and so on. Immigration is seen as altering the ethnic and cultural composition of the national population, and consequently the national character. From a nationalist perspective, high-volume immigration potentially distorts or dilutes their national culture more than is desired or even necessary. Germany, for example, was indeed intended as a state for Germans: the state's policy of mass immigration was not foreseen by the 19th-century nationalist movements. Immigration has forced Germany and other western European states to re-examine their national identity: part of the population is not prepared to redefine it to include immigrants. It is this type of opposition to immigration which generated support for anti-immigration parties such as Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the British National Party in Britain, the Lega Nord in Italy, the Front National in France, and the Lijst Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands.
One of the responses of nation-states to mass immigration is to promote the cultural assimilation of immigrants into the national community, and their integration into the political, social, and economic structures. In Europe, where nation-states have a tradition of national unification by cultural and linguistic policies, variants of these policies have been proposed to accelerate the assimilation of immigrants. The introduction of citizenship tests for immigrants is the most visible form of state-promoted assimilation. The test usually include some form of language exam, and some countries have reintroduced forms of language prohibition.
Most European countries do not have the high population growth of the United States, and some experience population decline. In such circumstances, the effect of immigration is to reduce decline, or delay its onset, rather than substantially increase the population. The Republic of Ireland is one of the only EU countries comparable to the United States in this respect, since large-scale immigration contributed to substantial population growth. Spain has also witnessed a recent boost in population due to high immigration.
1.6. As political issue
The political debate about immigration is now a feature of most developed countries. Some countries such as Italy, and especially the Republic of Ireland and Spain, have shifted within a generation, from traditional labor emigration, to mass immigration, and this has become a political issue. Some European countries, such as the United Kingdom and Germany, have seen major immigration since the 1960's and immigration has already been a political issue for decades. Political debates about immigration typically focus on statistics, the immigration law and policy, and the implementation of existing restrictions. In some European countries the debate in the 1990's was focused on asylum seekers, but restrictive policies within the European Union have sharply reduced asylum seekers. In Western Europe the debate focuses on immigration from the Enlargement of the European Union and new member states of the EU, especially from Poland.
The politics of immigration have become increasingly associated with others issues, such as national security, terrorism, and in western Europe especially, with the presence of Islam as a new major religion. Some components of conservative movements see an unassimilated, economically deprived, and generally hostile immigrant population as a threat to national stability; other elements of conservative movements welcome immigrant labor. Those with security concerns cite the 2005 civil unrest in France that point to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy as an example of the value conflicts arising from immigration of Muslims in Western Europe. Because of all these associations, immigration has become an emotional political issue in many Western nations.
Chapter 2. Immigration in Europe
As of 2006, the French national institute of statistics INSEE estimated that 4.9 million foreign-born immigrants live in France (8% of the country's population): The number of French citizens with foreign origins is generally thought to be around 6.7 m