Transnational marriage a 'root cause' of poor integration says report

September 25, 2005

The problems of integrating immigrant communities - so graphically described in the last few days by Commission for Racial Equality chairman, Trevor Phillips - will only get worse if action is not taken soon to severely curtail transnational marriages in the UK, says a report out today.

Such marriages make a major contribution to the formation of the ‘ghettos’ described by Mr Phillips and set back integration by a generation says think-tank Migrationwatch in a major paper on the subject. (Read report)

‘If Mr Phillips’ warning that we are ‘sleepwalking into racial segregation’ is not to be realised we must face up to an issue that is one of the root causes of this problem,’ said Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch. ‘He quoted the East African Asians as an example of successful integration. Precisely so. Not only were they themselves well educated but there was no subsequent flow of uneducated spouses. His example therefore illustrates our point.’

The Migrationwatch report says that the flow of spouses and fiancé(e)s from the Indian Sub Continent (ISC) doubled between 1996 and 2001. Now nearly half of ethnic Indian and three quarters of ethnic Pakistani and Bangladeshi children aged 0-4 have a mother born in her country of origin. In Bradford 30% of all children are born to foreign mothers; in Tower Hamlets the figure is 68%. And the Pakistani population of Manchester, Birmingham and Bradford increased by about 50% between 1991 and 2001.

Said Sir Andrew: ‘It is now essential that immigration policy should discourage international arranged marriage which has long been simply a means of avoiding immigration controls. With a British Asian community that includes two million of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi descent, it is now completely unnecssary. The present regulations should be tightened and a “family connection test” should be introduced, on the lines of that in force in Denmark.

He said Migrationwatch was proposing that where a UK resident wished to marry a spouse from the country in which he or she (or either parent) was born, entry clearance to Britain should not be granted until both parties had reached the age of 24. The test would not apply to citizens of the EU who have a treaty right of entry nor to citizens of countries whose primary official language is English and who thus do not pose an integration problem.

'We have had a clear wake up call from the Chairman of the CRE. However he ducked what is obviously a key issue. Commonsense dictates that in the interests of all our communities action should now be taken on transnational marriages,’ he said.

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