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“Brexit” and What it Means

EU-FLAG

As this month’s newsletter was being finalized, we found out that voters in the United Kingdom chose to have their country leave the European Union. This news was met with surprise across the world, with the prevailing question being “Why did this happen?” I will do my best here to present my opinion on why the people of the United Kingdom chose to take this historic step.

The EU arose out of the desire for a more cooperative Europe that could avoid a repeat of the devastation of the two World Wars. What began as the European Coal and Steel Community following the Treaty of Paris became the European Economic Community (the EEC) in 1958. Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands were the founding countries of the EU.  The UK joined the EEC in 1973 and then the British people were given a referendum in 1975 as to whether they would stay or leave. Britain voted to stay in the EEC. The EU as it is called today was established in 1993 following the Maastricht treaty.

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The UK Joined the EU in 1975

The UK Joined the EU in 1975

From the foundation of the European Union one of the main tenants was to create ‘an ever closer union’, in other words the goal was that one day the EU would become the United States of Europe. Moreover, there would be free movement for all EU citizens to have the inalienable right to live and work within any EU member country. For example, as a German citizen you had the right to relocate to the UK at will, and vice versa.

The goals of an ‘ever closer union’ seemed quite innocent amongst the initial founding member countries that shared a lot of common values, but as more and more countries gained admission to the EU these common interests, values, and comparative economic strength began to be obscured.  Today we have 28 countries within the EU, all with varying priorities and wealth, and the volume of migration has become an issue.

The EU now has a population membership of over 500 million citizens, every one of which have the inalienable right to live within any EU country. Thus if 50 million EU citizens had decided to relocate to the UK last year, they could have. The flip side being that British citizens could do the same and go to any other EU country.

The reality according to companies like Migration Watch UK shows that the migration patterns are quite interesting:

Immigration from the EU to the UK was 270,000, compared with only 85,000 UK citizens emigrating to the EU. The net migration to the UK was therefore +184,000. Thus, even though all EU citizens have the right to relocate, many more people are coming into the UK while British citizens are leaving at a far smaller rate. This has created an unbalanced relationship in immigration in which the UK is flooded with immigrants from poorer EU countries.

Chart1

What is totally irksome to many British citizens is that fact that under EU law, Britain has no right to curb the influx of EU citizens. In other words, the UK has no sovereignty over its borders when it comes to the freedom of movement between EU members.

The second chart shows that total EU and Non-EU immigration to the UK has been steadily rising.

Chart2

It is not beyond the understanding of most Brits that if your country is one of the richest in the EU, then citizens from the poorest EU countries will naturally migrate to your country. For decades UK governments of both major parties have ignored this reality and have done their best to play down the rise in immigration to the UK as being nothing to worry about.

Moreover, the UK government has failed to build more schools, more hospitals, and more homes to match the rise in immigration. Blue-collar workers in the UK have now found themselves feeling somewhat disadvantaged because they have to compete with migrants for jobs, hosing, schools and medical services.

British Prime David Cameron

British Prime David Cameron

As Prime Minister David Cameron was promising to bring immigration down to the tens of thousands, immigration to the UK has in fact been rising into the hundreds of thousands.

All in all, while it is true there are many benefits of EU membership, the sheer lack of provision for the rising influx of immigrants has created a sense of unfairness. On June 24th 2016 we witnessed a tipping point – the results of a referendum proved that 52% of Brits felt it was better to take their chances outside of the EU than to remain in the union. I can’t honestly tell you whether this referendum will end up a net positive or negative for the United Kingdom, history will decide that.

What I can say in my view is that the EU itself has to change its ideology from the innocence of 1951 and recognize that they now are made up of 28 vastly different countries. There needs to be a modernization of the European Union if it is to survive this new century.  Total and unfettered freedom of movement in my view is simply not viable in the wealthier EU countries. If that ‘clause’ had been removed, allowing member countries to regulate their own immigration policies, I’m pretty sure the outcome of the referendum would have been to remain in the EU.

I consider myself very pro EU. There are so many benefits we get from the EU as an economic union (too many to cover in this article), but unless there is real change in its dogma on immigration, the union will crumble under its own unsustainable weight. The richest countries will once again form their own new economic unions and the poorest countries will be left out, creating the very same international tension the EU was meant to eliminate after the destruction of World War 2.

Bottom line – if the EU can eliminate the doctrine of free movement it can survive, if not it will not.

Ok – so there you have my two cents. I am eager to hear alternate views as well. Please drop us an email and we’ll find a way to share them with our over 8,000 subscribers.

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
Santa Monica,
California 90401
Tel: 310 496 4292

Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide a free consultation for our prospective clients.

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Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.

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