New poll results show public priority is tackling illegal immigration, not tightening rules on legal migration

As the government publishes its immigration bill, polling commissioned by the Migration Matters Trust from YouGov has revealed that the public's priority on immigration is for our current rules to be properly enforced to prevent illegal immigration, not changed to reduce the number of legal migrants coming to the UK.

Key points from poll include:

*60% think poor enforcement of rules that allow too many to settle illegally in the UK is the most important issue in immigration vs 26% who think its poor rules that allow too many to settle legally

*A large proportion of the public have a realistic sense of the percentage of immigration that is illegal - 47% think its upto 10% of migrants, with a further 24% thinking its upto 25%. The latest government estimate was in 2009 and projected illegal immigration in the range 417k to 863k. Given an immigrant population in the UK of 4.8m (according to the 2011 census) this would mean the % of illegal immigration out of the combined legal &illegal total would be in the range 8% to 15%

*Neither party is trusted. Although David Cameron leads Ed Miliband by 25% to 13% on who is trusted to deliver the right level of immigration, 62% trusted neither or didn't know

Commenting on the publication of the immigration bill and the poll results, Barbara Roche, chair of the Migration Matters Trust, said,

“The focus of the new immigration bill on tackling illegal immigration is welcome.

Our poll results make clear that the public’s priority is for our current immigration rules to be properly enforced, not for the rules to be changed to further cut legal migration.

Legal migrants make a massive contribution to the economy and are essential to Britain’s recovery. If the public have confidence in the enforcement of the rules, then some of the toxicity of today’s debate on immigration can be addressed, allowing a more reasoned, evidence-based discussion on the right level of legal immigration for Britain.

It is important, however, that action proposed in the new bill to tackle illegal immigration is effective. The proposals in the bill requiring landlords and employers to check the status of tenants and employees are fine in principle, but in practice, must not lead to discrimination against legal migrants or send a message to the world that Britain is closed for business."