By Inês Linhares Dias

The immigration issue has gained prominence with the Brexit campaign and as this General Election is all about Brexit, naturally each party’s take on immigration will have a big impact on people’s votes.

As Britain prepares to leave the EU in the next two years, matters such as the rights of the European citizens that lie in the UK or freedom of movement between EU countries and Britain will certainly need to be addressed. But the immigration issues are not restricted to the terms on which the new relation between Britain and Europe will unfold. With a major refugee crisis and terrorism striking Britain twice during the electoral campaign, some people may worry about the income of people and what it might mean to the country’s security.

Calls for tightening border control were fed by false claims that migrants claimed more benefits than the British people and that they were taking natives jobs. These claims have been proven wrong by several studies, yet these arguments resonate with people that have seen their life conditions deteriorate whilst immigration numbers rose.

This narrative, pushed mainly by Ukip, hasn’t been contradicted enough by political parties and politicians during the Brexit campaign. The real discussion about this issue is finally happening, with Jeremy Corbyn bringing the facts on migration to the discussion and pointing out the importance of EU workers to public services such as the NHS, where there is a “skill shortage” that is supressed with skilled migrants.

Still, there are a lot of misconceptions on the voters’ minds, on an issue that has revealed to be of high importance to this election. It is, therefore, worth to take a look on what each party is proposing.

What each party’s manifesto says on immigration.

Conservatives:

  • Cut annual net migration to a “sustainable” level in the tens of thousands.
  • Control immigration from the EU.
  • Toughen up requirements for student visas, include students in immigration quotas and expect them to leave the country when studies are finished.
  • Independent consultation to better align the visa system with Britain’s modern industrial strategy.
  • Double the Immigration Skills Charge on companies employing migrant worker.

Labour:

Labour’s main premise on immigration is to implement “fair rules and reasonable management of migration”. The party doesn’t commit to reduce the numbers of migrants coming in to the country.

  • End freedom of movement between the UK and the EU.
  • Implementation of a Migrant Impact Fund in hosting areas to support public services.
  • Remove students from immigration numbers.
  • Recruit border guards.
  • End income thresholds for spouses of migrants who want to enter the country.

Liberal Democrats:

The Liberal Democrats also show an open approach to migration. As the only big party questioning if Brexit should go ahead on any terms, the Lib Dems main pledge on migration issues is securing freedom of movement between the European Union and Britain.

  • Maintain freedom of movement between the EU and Britain.
  • Allow high-skilled immigration to back key sectors of the economy.
  • Remove students from immigration numbers.
  • Welcome 50.000 Syrian refugees over a five-year period and re-implement the “Dubs” child refugee scheme.

UK Independence Party:

UKIP campaigned for Brexit with a discourse that was mainly based on immigration. As such, it comes as no surprise that its manifesto shows the toughest stance on this issue out of all the parties running for tonight’s election.

  • End freedom of movement between the EU and Britain.
  • Introduce a “one in, one out” system to cut net migration to zero in five years.
  • Place a moratorium on unskilled and low-skilled workers for five years after Brexit.
  • No amnesty for illegal immigrants.
  • Five-year tax requirement for new migrants to be eligible for benefits and non-urgent NHS services.
  • Introduction of a “social attitudes” test that would prevent the entrance of people that see women or gay people as “second-class citizens”.

Green Party:

The Greens manifesto shows an open approach in two key ways:

  • Maintain freedom of movement between the EU and Britain.
  • Implement a “humane immigration and asylum system.

The Green Party Women’s manifesto shows the party’s vision for a more “humane immigration and asylum system”. It includes measures like:

  • Protect the most vulnerable.
  • Fund integrated support.
  • End deportation of at-risk asylum seekers
  • End immigration detention.

Scottish National Party:

Brexit is a main issue for the SNP, as an overwhelming majority of Scots voted Remain. As such, the main pledges of the SNP’s manifesto regarding immigration include securing EU citizens’ rights:

  • Guarantee EU citizens’ rights to remain in the UK.
  • Devolve immigration powers to Scotland to control immigration figures and attract EU citizens.
  • Reinstate post-study work visa so that after graduation students can stay in Scotland.
  • Re-implement the “Dubs” child refugee scheme.