Two surveys of UK attitudes to immigration suggest that UK attitudes to immigration are hardening.
The British Social Attitudes Survey, a survey conducted annually which polls Britons on their attitude to a number of social issues, found that Britons are more strongly opposed to immigration than they were in 1995. Britons with poor skills are more likely to oppose immigration and unskilled immigrants are the most resented, the survey shows. The survey text stated 'The flow of migrants into the UK over the past 15 years has been the largest in British history. The public has reacted with strengthened demands for a reduction in migration and increasingly negative views about the impact of migrants on Britain'.
The 29th Social Attitudes Survey was conducted by social research body NatCen. It found that three out of four respondents would like to see a reduction in immigration while only 63% felt the same in 1995. UK citizens now feel more negative about the effects of immigration. Since 2002, UK attitudes towards the cultural and economic impacts of immigration have become less positive. In 2002, only 43% felt that immigration had a negative economic impact and only 33% believed it had a negative cultural impact. The 2012 survey found that 52% of Britons believe that immigration has a negative economic impact and 48% believe that it has a negative cultural impact.
It is clear from the survey that this is not a question of race. More skilled migrants, regardless of their country of origin or ethnicity, are seen as an asset to the UK by more than 50% of those questioned. Fewer than 20% of those questioned believe that unskilled migration is advantageous to the UK, no matter whether the migrants come from eastern Europe, Asia or elsewhere. Talented international students are also considered to be an asset to the country.
Negative sentiment about immigration is not limited to the white British majority population. The survey found that over a quarter of first and second generation migrants believe that immigration has had a negative impact on British society.
A second poll carried out by YouGov on behalf of Migrationwatch UK, an anti-immigration pressure group, came up with similarly negative results. YouGov questioned nearly 3,000 people. They were asked whether students should be deported in several different scenarios. 70% of the YouGov sample believe that there should be a cap on the number of overseas students educated in the UK.
The poll also suggested that 70% believe that students with poor English should be deported. 84% believed that people who come to the UK on student visas and then work illegally should be deported and 87% believe that those who overstay student visas should be deported. Sir Andrew Green of Migrationwatch said that the YouGov survey proved that people were concerned about the number of students coming to the UK.
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