As Channel 4 and the ippr found, there's no problem at all with half our non-EU immigrants. They're the ones from India, the US, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and suchlike places. They earn above the UK average and make a positive contribution to the UK's per capita GDP. By the same token, there's no problem with half our EU immigrants, either; the French, Germans, Italians, Danes and Netherlanders who come here to live and work likewise add to our per capita GDP and help make our cities exciting global hubs.
As far as legal immigrants go, it's the others that are the problem. At the outside, there are those who actually decrease our wealth; from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Bulgaria, Romania and the Balkans. Poorly educated, with little capacity to learn or upskill, often burdened by primitive customs and beliefs, frequently semi-criminal by inclination, they will crowd-out our own poor from public services and facilities. We're mad to let them in, but they're legal.
Then there are the legal in-betweens, neither as national groups making a contribution to PC GDP or detracting from it. They have a neutral economic effect. Here are the commonwealth Africans, the Portuguese, the Poles and those from the Baltic states. They have fairly low paid jobs in the NHS, construction or service sectors, or they're on benefits. Unlike the 'takers', they're willing to integrate, don't colonise parts of our nation with squalid ghettoes and are about as law abiding as we ourselves are.
Then there are the illegals. Contrary to popular belief, most are not smuggled through Dover in lorries but are over-stayers of one variety or another. We don't know how many there are because the Tories abolished exit controls; we count them all in, but don't count any out. If you come from a nation where you can happily change your name and date of birth every week, coupled with a long tradition of document forgery and petty fraud, and an established network of cooperative co-nationals already in place you'll find it easy to overstay in the UK.
So how many Nigerians are there in the UK? Well, the GLA estimated in a confidential economics paper that some 20,000 have settled in my bit of South London since 2001, and seeing all the village girls on the buses I can believe it. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also thinks that the UK is full of Nigerian over-stayers, estimating that there are between 800,000 and 3m Nigerians living in the UK. The Office for National Statistics depends on Nigerians honestly filling out census forms and leaving the UK when their visas expire, so they reckon there are only 140,000 here (that's the figure that Labour will pick). A further economic study on money transfers out of the UK - most Nigerians will remit cash back home, either by Western Union or by giving bundles of notes to another Nigerian to carry home - suggested there were probably around a million Nigerians in the UK.
Finally there are the asylum seekers. Kurds, Afghans, Iranians, Sudanese and the like. They're only a problem for two reasons; one, that our EU partners haven't done enough to stop them getting to the UK and two a series of nonsensical legal judgements based on an assumption of zero risk to the applicant if returned. No one faces zero risk, FFS.
OK, with apols for the gross national stereotypes, a sort of shorthand necessary for blog pieces, you can see the problem clearly. This makes the solutions clear.
1. An immediate halt to the legal 'takers'
2. The immediate reintroduction of exit controls
3. The rigorous combing-out of over-stayers and illegals with no amnesty
4. Parliament to set conditions for asylum seekers
These are tough times. We need tough measures.