LONDON -- Britain is seeking to promote a more cohesive nation by requiring people wanting to live permanently in the country to pass a test in English proficiency as well as politics, history and culture.The legal right to reside in the West is a coveted asset. Of course the UK government should leverage it for the benefit of its citizenry. Critics complain about the barriers it creates:
Such tests have been required since 2004 for those seeking British citizenship, but will be required starting yesterday for those seeking permanent residence.
The test, called "Life in the United Kingdom," is composed of 24 questions about British history, the political system, customs and citizens' rights.
However, Habib Rahman, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said the new rules "could effectively deny U.K. settlement and citizenship to some of the children in these families indefinitely."Does he expect the cost of legal residency to be less than the amount needed to obtain a driver's license? The $80 is a very paltry means test, if that's what Rahman is arguing that it is.
He also complained that fees associated with the test -- totaling close to $80 -- would be difficult for some immigrants to meet.
The test is not difficult. Like a stateside driver's license, there is a single booklet that contains all of the information necessitated by the test. It's available on Amazon for less than $20. A study guide can also be thrown in for another $10. Since citizens of other EU nations (except for Romania and Bulgaria) are granted automatic legal residency, we're primarily looking at settlers from outside of Europe.
This is tantamount to MIT requiring its applicants to be proficient in the use of Microsoft Word in order to receive consideration. Coming to live forever in the UK from somewhere thousands of miles away but can't read through a book that's not even 150 pages long? Absurd.
The change chronicles another chapter in Europe's continued slow slide to the right. These requirements together comprise an infantile version of the sort of merit-based immigration system that Western countries should adopt. Include not only linguistic fluency and a nominal fee, but also consider occupation, physical health, age, affluence, criminal history, IQ testing (or at least educational attainment as a proxy), social/political beliefs, and so on.
Why shouldn't countries have the right to tailor their recruitment programs (immigration acceptance at its essence) in ways that best benefit them? Businesses, universities, sports teams, etc all do this. In an increasingly 'global envrionment', a nation's human capital is of paramount importance. East Asia understands this. Many Western governments do not (or, in anticipation of John Bolton's response, simply do not care or want to inflict harm on the citizens they serve).