Politicians in Wales are campaigning to transform the country into the world’s first “nation of sanctuary” for “refugees and asylum seekers”.
The Welsh Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee has published a report which chairman John Griffiths (Labour) hopes will help advance the Welsh Government’s goal of becoming a sanctuary, a commitment agreed in principle in 2012.
“The constant news cycle of images and stories of people escaping war and persecution in Syria, Iraq and other countries brings home the tragedy of current world events and the stories people have told us during this inquiry have been both harrowing and distressing but ultimately inspiring,” said Griffiths.
“It is critical that there is the right support available to [migrants] when they reach Wales so that they can participate fully in Welsh life and have fulfilling lives in their new communities.”
The opposition Welsh separatist party, Plaid Cymru, is also in favour of turning Wales into a migrant sanctuary, with leader Leanne Wood having promoted the policy for a number of years.
Evidence of strong public support for mass immigration in Wales is lacking, however.
A substantial poll carried out for WalesOnline by YouGov in 2014 found that 68 per cent of people believe immigration controls should be tighter, compared with 5 per cent who believe they should be relaxed.
41 per cent of respondents also believed that immigration has damaged Wales, with 18 per cent saying the damage has been “very bad”. This compares with 22 per cent who said immigration has benefited Wales, with just 5 per saying the effects have been “very good”.
The survey found that the public are as keen on controls for EU immigration as for non-EU immigration, suggesting that it does not share the desire of the Welsh political establishment to keep the country within the Free Movement regime of the Single Market after Brexit.