…but not directly from Africa.
They are already citizens of other European countries and are moving to Britain for greater upward mobility they say. Some others say it’s because there are more mosques in the UK.
A clear majority of British people think current immigration levels are too high, according to many polls. A major fear is that too many newcomers will stretch Britain’s already shrinking welfare state. According to some reports, Downing Street is considering negative advertising, to persuade Bulgarians and Romanians to stay away. It doesn’t help quell these fears when new migrants from poorer parts of the world, such as Somalia, show high rates of unemployment.
But what if we were told that thousands of people from Africa we’ve seen arriving here are not, in fact, fleeing poverty at all? Or that, legally speaking, they’re not even Africans, but rather nationals of such generous welfare utopias as Sweden, Denmark and Holland?
For BBC Radio 4, I’ve been searching for some idea of what the modern “British Dream” could be, through a series of frank interviews with some of the almost 3 million new arrivals to England and Wales since 2001 (the first of three programmes is broadcast at 8pm starting tonight). Time and again, our team uncovered Africans who were not any longer from Africa. They were EU citizens and actually giving up welfare rights in places like Scandinavia to come to the UK.
Indeed, we met so many Nigerians from Germany, or Somalis from Denmark, that we asked Oxford University’s Migration Observatory to crunch the numbers on how many EU migrants are not originally from Europe. They found that 141,000 people, 7% of those who came to the UK under EU rules were born outside the continent. Somalis are one of the biggest such groups, with an estimated 20,000 coming to the UK from the Netherlands alone. Studies show that between one third and a half of the entire Dutch Somali community has moved to the UK. [I’m wondering if the political climate in the Netherlands has become less “welcoming.”—ed]
“I think the UK is more open than other European countries,” says Jibril, who is now a London bus driver. He and many other Somalis told me they admired the success of non-white people in Britain – which was conspicuously absent, they felt, on the continent. Jibril mentions the Asian community who came to the UK from Uganda. “They are landlords, they are businessmen, lawyers,” he enthuses. “It’s amazing.”
How should we feel about this admiration of Britain from non-white people across Europe? Some may find it uncomfortable that Jibril and other Somalis I met were partly attracted by the larger number of mosques in Britain.
Hint to America: Build the mosques and they will come!
There is more and lots of links at The Guardian, here.