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Immigration statistics quoted by Conservative leader David Cameron during the leaders’ election debate are unfounded and misleading, a leading national charity claimed today.

Habib Rahman, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has contested the suggestion by Mr Cameron that migration was the “equivalent of two million across a decade”.

The figures from the Office of National Statistics actually indicate that net migration is falling dramatically and thousands of migrants are going home. Cameron’s figures include British citizens returning to the UK.

At the same time International Labour Organisation warns that we need a significant number of migrants to support an ageing population. Indeed a closed Europe would mean a meaner, poorer, weaker, older Europe.

Habib Rahman said: “David Cameron is well aware that migration is falling dramatically. The real trend is thousands of workers are leaving Britain because of the recession and global financial crisis.

“Migration has only topped 200,000 during three years in living memory - largely on account of the enlargement of the European Union. Britain has never seen migration of two million people in a single decade.”

He added: “The misrepresentation of migration figures has very serious consequences. It can only create fear - leading to racism and further support for rightwing extremists.”

Net migration actually fell by a third to 163,000 in 2008 which is the lowest figure since Poland joined the EU. The number of Europeans coming to live in the UK has fallen from 100,000 to 68,000 in the year to June 2009 - that’s a 32 percent drop.

Great campaign

Emigration has reached a 17 year high with 427,000 people leaving Britain. Of those coming into the UK, 85,000 British citizens returned home

The United Nations Population warns that the real crisis we face is an aging population and Europe will need 13 million migrants by 2050. Migrants contributed £41 billion in tax during 2003.

JCWI has launched the “I Love Migrants” campaign precisely to counter misleading statements about immigration during the election. The site contains ten key facts explaining how migration has benefited Britain economically, socially and culturally.

Philippe Legrain, author of Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them, said: “This is a great campaign. Immigrants have very few champions these days, so the JCWI's tireless work to protect the rights of people coming to contribute to Britain [is] more important than ever.”

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