On 18 September 2014, residents of Scotland will vote on the Scottish Independence Referendum. One of the major impacts from independence for Scotland will be responsibility for their own immigration policy. At present Holyrood (Scottish Parliament), has no power over citizenship or immigration policy. If Scotland does become independent, the Scottish Government plans to continue membership of the passport-free travel area with the UK. Those opposed to independence have argued that Scotland would be required to pursue a similar immigration policy to the UK if it wanted to stay in the Common Travel Area.
Staying in the UK, means our Economies will Grow Together
If the majority vote Yes, Scotland would be entitled to decide its immigration policy.
Rob McNeil, the Head of Media and Communications at the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, says much would depend on whether Scotland wanted to maintain the policy that allows movement between England, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands. That decision would also determine whether the 40,000 Scots estimated to cross the border daily could continue to do so. He confirmed:
“The UK could also insist border enforcement was invested in so Scotland’s borders were not used as a way in by people to the rest of the UK.”
The Scottish Government has argued that the Immigration policy agreed at Westminster does not meet the needs of Scotland. Which has a healthy population growth and this growth is imperative for Scotland’s economy. One of the main contributors to Scotland’s population growth is migrants who choose to make Scotland their home. The Scottish Government believe that the Westminster Government’s policy for the whole of the UK is heavily influenced by conditions in the south east of England.
In contrast to what the Scottish Government believe, by staying the UK the economies can grow together. Many thousands of Scottish jobs are connected to trade with the rest of the United Kingdom. For example, 200,000 Scottish jobs are supported by banking, insurance and finance, and the industry itself estimates that nine out of ten customers live in the rest of the UK.
If the Vote is ‘Yes’
The Scottish Government pledge to take more refugees and and to “welcome people who want to come to work and live in Scotland”. After a ‘Yes’ vote the Scottish Government pledges to:
- Allow the Scottish borders to remain open to all EU nationals, as it would be an EU member;
- Open a Scottish Asylum Agency to oversee applications;
- Close Dungavel Detention Centre in Lanarkshire and dawn raids would be ended;
- Allow British nationals residing in Scotland automatically become Scottish nationals;
- Allow Scottish citizenship by descent, to those who has a parent or grandparent who qualifies for Scottish citizenship;
- Allow dual citizenship with the UK; and
- Allow UK passports to be recognised until they expire.
The significance of the referendum for immigration policy will only become clearer during the weeks and months following the vote. What seems certain, though, is that the outcome of this Thursday could have a huge impact on the British political landscape – with implications for migrants’ rights both in Scotland and for the rest of the UK.
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