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Ripped From the Headlines: Brexit and Immigration: Controlling borders or keeping foreigners out?

A guide to understanding the wider context behind stories in the news.

Arguments for Immigration

Supporters of immigration argue that immigrants are, by and large, hard-working, motivated people who support the economy of the new country by introducing young, dynamic, and, in some cases, highly skilled people into the workforce.  They strengthen the culture of the new country by making it more vibrant, robust, and diverse.

Arguments Against Immigration


Opponents of immigration argue that immigrants are a drain on the new country's resources and that the immigrants bring crime and the threat of terrorism.  Some argue that immigrants dilute the culture of the new country by not assimilating.



Brexit ("British" and "Exit") is the popular name for a referendum which called for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.  It was passed on June 23, 2016 with 51.9% of those who voted supporting withdrawal.

What happened?

After the June 23rd referendum, the British Government began working on the long and complicated plan for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.  After the vote, Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported staying in the union, stepped down saying that Britain needed fresh leadership.  Former Home Secretary Theresa May took over in July of 2016.  Instead of the hard break called for by Boris Johnson and other major Brexit supporters, May began negotiations which sought to produce a trade agreement with the EU.  After many months of work with much debate over the sticking point of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a plan finally emerged.  No all are happy with it and parliament still has to approve.   

What is it?


Though there were other reasons for supporting Brexit, one of the main motivators was a strong opposition to immigration.


The Reaction

Reaction around the world to Brexit was mixed with some decrying the political and financial unrest it could potentially cause and the racist, anti-immigration undertones of its supporters' rhetoric.  Some cheered it as an affirmation of the United Kingdom's sovereignty and position as a cultural power.  Others noted the potential economic disruption in Europe and worried about the implications for Britain and it's trading partners.