Taking into account the 307,000 people who moved out of the UK (there is no break down of those figures to see how many were UK citizens) that puts estimated net immigration at 329,000 for the 12 month period, eclipsing the previous record of 269,000 when Labour first opened the borders to eastern Europe.
Bizarrely, the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, has blamed businesses for giving jobs to immigrants rather than blaming the EU and his own government for allowing almost half a billion people the right to live and work here in the first place.
Net immigration of 329,000 people in a year is simply unsustainable from an economic point of view. We have 1.8m unemployed people living here already and there just aren't that many jobs to go around. In January this year there were just 700,000 job vacancies for those 1.8m people who are unemployed and able to work. The immigration figures aren't broken down into the number of immigrants coming here for work rather than children accompanying parents but a conservative estimate would say at least a quarter of a million of the 329,000 net immigrants are here to enter the labour market. That's another quarter of a million people on top of the existing 1.8m unemployed people chasing the same jobs.
The economic argument for slashing immigration is talked about regularly but the social argument less so. One of the reasons for this is the demonisation of anyone who talks about controlling immigration as a racist or far right. It's not right wing or racist to talk about immigration or about the damage it's doing to the economy, to social cohesion and to the safety of our country.
Known terrorists and extremists have been seen entering Europe with asylum seekers and illegal immigrants and once they're in an EU country, our border controls are completely inadequate to keep them out of the UK. Our lives are being put at risk by inadequate or non-existent border controls. Known terrorists and criminal gangs have entered the UK via EU countries and in many cases they have legal right under EU law to be here, no matter the risk to the population.
In the past we have assimilated the immigrant population and adopted elements of their culture as our own but we can't assimilate 654,000 people in a year (636k here legally plus 18k illegal immigrants). The population of the UK is estimated at 64.7m of which approximately 8.5m are registered as foreign born and an estimated 600k either entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas. One in seven people in the UK weren't born here and that's not an amount that can simply settle in, integrate with their local communities and enrich our culture in the same way immigrants from the Commonwealth did after the Second World War. In the 2011 census, 4.2m people (7.7% of the population at the time) spoke English as a second language which places an intolerable burden on public services and is a barrier to integration. Immigration on the scale we are seeing today is as unsustainable socially as it is economically.
With immigration clearly out of control, UKIP's policy of freezing economic immigration for 5 years to allow the housing and labour market to recover before introducing a points-based system seems more sensible than ever. The March immigration figures are from before the EU declared an effective amnesty for illegal immigrants and bogus asylum seekers from the near east, tens of thousands of which have descended onto Calais trying to make their way illegally into the UK. The year end figures will make the 654,000 seem pale in comparison.
David Cameron has all but given up demanding an end to unlimited immigration from the EU - one of his "red lines" for renegotiation - after being told repeatedly that stopping it is out of the question. The aim of the EU has always been to turn Europe into a country (read the Schuman Declaration) and countries don't have internal border controls. Strengthening borders between EU countries doesn't do anything to maintain the illusion of a United States of Europe. We can't control our borders while we're in the EU.