After a week where immigration debate was dominated by a cat – the irony being that these heartless creatures couldn't care less if their two "owners" split up and would willingly eat them if there was no Whiskas around – David Cameron will today address another contentious area of immigration.
Every year some 50,000 people obtain UK visas on account of a marriage to a British citizen, but as the Prime Minister says: "We need to make sure – for their sake as well as ours – that those who come through this route are genuinely coming for family reasons, that they can speak English, and that they have the resources they need to live here and make a contribution here – not just to scrape by, or worse, to subsist on benefit.
"A sample of more than 500 family migration cases found that over 70 per cent of UK-based sponsors had post-tax earnings of less than £20,000 a year.
"When the income level of the sponsor is this low, there is an obvious risk that the migrants and their family will become a significant burden on the welfare system and the taxpayer.”
The problem with family-reunion immigration is not that the partners are an economic burden on the country, although they are (at least in the short term, while having children, although the IPPR concluded that most non-Western immigration was essentially a burden). The real evil is that nothing is better suited towards forming ghettos.
After Jack Straw abolished the Primary Purpose Rule in June 1997, annual marriage-based immigration from south Asia doubled within five years. By 2001 nearly three-quarters of British Pakistani and Bangladeshi children had a mother from abroad (according to MigrationWatch). And almost everyone marries someone from their own ethnic group.
Such a system cannot go on indefinitely, as it leads to a rapid increase in Bangladeshi and Pakistani populations in concentrated parts of the country, while de-assimilating them with further injections of Pakistani or Bengali culture and language. This is taking place while the cultural fallout from previous migrations is at its height, namely the tendency of second-generation immigrants to reject their ancestral religious traditions (which in the case of Bengal is heavily influenced by Hinduism and fairly laid-back) in favour of an Arabised Islam which appeals to young people torn between cultures.
There is also the scandal that British-born women are pressured into marrying men from the subcontinent, a scandal that has resulted in several murders of women (often only teenagers) who have refused (although sometimes Bangladeshi-British women might not be entirely opposed to marrying someone from the old country. Since it is the custom for Bangladeshi women to move into their husband’s family home, having a mother-in-law 5,000 miles away is a big bonus).