Migration is about need not numbers

London, UK - FEB 14, 2007 The Christian think tank Ekklesia has welcomed an independent report from a university-based church research institute which shows the shocking conditions endured by many migrant workers contributing to the economic life of the UK.

The Von Hugel Institute’s survey of migrants who are regular worshippers in Catholic churches across London claims that many receive less than the minimum wage, work excess hours, and face mistreatment at the hands of landlords, bosses and public agencies because of their illegal status.

“This survey shows that exploitation in an unequal world is the true story of economic migration – not scaremongering about scroungers, which is what the press and politicians often latch onto”, commented Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow. “These are people contributing to our wealth. They deserve fair shares, but instead face discrimination.”

Ekklesia says that though the Catholic Church, because of its demography, is especially linked with workers from the EU accession countries and beyond, the human challenge migrants pose is one which humanitarian groups of all religious persuasions and none should face up to.

“The Von Hugel report should encourage politicians, journalists and policy makers to focus on needs rather than numbers in the debate about a just immigration policy”, said Simon Barrow.

Ekklesia is also backing the 'Strangers into Citizens' campaign, which is calling for a one-off “earned amnesty” for migrants (whether asylum seekers or economic migrants) who have made new lives in the UK.

The campaign, backed by churches, (www.cof.org.uk) argues that migrants who have been in the UK for four years or more should be admitted to a two-year "pathway to citizenship".

Ekklesia is currently researching alternative approaches to migration based on global mutuality rather than narrow national interests.

Additional information for editors

The Von Hugel Institute is based at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge University. Its research is available free of charge at www.vhi.org.uk from 18:00 on 14 February.

Media enquiries to Francis Davis, 07799 711083.

Ekklesia is an independent think tank which explores the role of religion in public life and promotes transformative theological ideas. It has the most- visited religious news website in the UK, according to Alexa/Amazon. Ekklesia was not involved in the compilation or commissioning of the Von Hugel report.