Martin Thomas argues (Solidarity 409) that immigration bans are not always a means for the capitalist class to micromanage labour supply. He cites Australia in 1901 as an example of a capitalist government who reluctantly introduced immigration bans to appease racists.
But in 2016 in Britain, most non-EU migrants have to a. have a job offer with a salary exceeding £20,800 (preferably in a sector where there is a shortage of British workers) b. be able to financially support themselves c. pass a medical test at their own expense d. pass an English test . Brexit Tories want to impose this or similar on EU citizens as well. Is this not micromanaging labour supply?
Immigration controls necessarily involve overwhelming state violence against people who have committed no crime but are merely moving around. Contrary to Martin’s bizarre claim, there are no means of restricting someone’s movement “gently”. Exposing this fact can lead to broader questioning about capitalist society — a society which neurotically insists on people being in the “right” place and is prepared to see people die rather than move.
In contrast, (to use Martin’s reasoning) the argument that migrants are an “economic and cultural boon” implies that we might support immigration bans for migrants will not bring economic or cultural boons, or that an Australian based points system is otherwise desirable but the overhead costs of implementation outweigh the benefits. We should aspire to live in a world where even unproductive and bland people are free to move around.