But the point you make is that immigration reduces the wages of the low paid?
Focusing on the period 1997-2005 when the UK experienced significant labour immigration (see our briefing 'Migrants in the UK Labour Market'), Dustmann, Frattini and Preston (2013) find that an increase in the number of migrants corresponding to 1% of the UK-born working-age population resulted in an increase in average wages of 0.1 to 0.3%. Another study, for the period 2000-2007, found that a 1% increase in the share of migrants in the UK’s working-age population lowers the average wage by 0.3% (Reed and Latorre 2009). These studies, which relate to different time periods, thus reach opposing conclusions but they agree that the effects of immigration on averages wages are relatively small.
The effects of immigration on workers within specific wage ranges or in specific occupations are more significant. The greatest wage effects are found for low-waged workers. Dustmann et al (2013) find that each 1% increase in the share of migrants in the UK-born working age population leads to a 0.6% decline in the wages of the 5% lowest paid workers and to an increase in the wages of higher paid workers. Similarly, another study focusing on wage effects at the occupational level during 1992 and 2006, found that, in the unskilled and semi-skilled service sector, a 1% rise in the share of migrants reduced average wages in that occupation by 0.5% (Nickell and Salaheen 2008).
The available research further shows that any adverse wage effects of immigration are likely to be greatest for resident workers who are themselves migrants. This is because the skills of new migrants are likely to be closer substitutes for the skills of migrants already employed in the UK than for those of UK-born workers. Manacorda, Manning and Wadsworth (2012) analyse data from 1975-2005 and conclude that the main impact of increased immigration is on the wages of migrants already in the UK.
I don't want a 0.6% (or whatever) wage reduction, but I didn't think that was the main concern about immigration and certainly not the only one. I think some of the cultures and norms that immigrants bring to the country and their standards of education are very important. For example, the influx of religious and poorly educated economic migrants from East Asia is a concern and a root cause of Islamist extremist behaviour and Islamism in general. Arguably, the doctors, nurses and engineers who are western in outlook and no more than very mildly religious have not been detrimental or intolerably numerous. Students stays are often temporary and profitable to the UK. I thought it was more the nature of immigration even more than the extent of it that was the problem and corporate profits are of interest to both politicians and voters.