UK immigration Minister claims the country is "addicted" to immigrants

UK Immigration Minister Damian Green claimed this week that the UK remains open to skilled immigrants but the country has become "addicted" to hiring foreign workers.

"Like all addictions, it takes some time to wean people off but it's good for you to be weaned off an addiction and it will be good for business in the long run if we have more an instinct that's 'let's find a British worker and, if necessary, let's train a British worker," said Green.

Green called on UK businesses to prioritise hiring or training local staff instead of bringing in foreign-born workers.

"If you have skills and talents that Britain needs, then absolutely, we welcome you with open arms; if you haven't, then we don't," said Mr Green.

Green's comments follow last week's announcements regarding new tougher permanent residence requirements for certain UK Tier 2 visa holders as well as new applicants. Under the new rules, in order to apply for permanent residency UK Tier 2 visa holders must meet the minimum salary threshold of £35,000.

According to Green, the changes are part of the government's pledge to reduce net immigration to the 'tens of thousands' from its current level of approximately 250,000. Although Green compared that task to "turning around an oil tanker".

"We deliberately set ourselves a five-year target. We always knew that it was going to take the [length of the] parliament because we could see the net migration figures rising," Green said.

Critics have argued that the new rules will hurt lower wage earners but Green claims that tougher immigration policies were actually put in place to benefit those who were less well off.

"It is actually in some of the poor areas of our inner cities that you get these social tensions that are no good to anyone on either side of them. And relieving those tensions, therefore, is a policy to help some of the more disadvantaged areas of this country," he said.

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