SERCO'S decision to evict failed asylum seekers from their assigned homes in Glasgow, and the reaction to that announcement from the voluntary sector, the media and politicians, inspire two considerations. First, these events confirm that Westminster’s style of migration management creates more problems than it solves. Second, it shows that Glasgow and Scotland have the capacity, should they be allowed to do it, to solve problems in a more effective way.

The Westminster model of migration and asylum management is built on weak legs because it is driven by ideology rather than by pragmatism and facts. The ideology assumes that migration is detrimental to our society and our economy with the theory that “migrants steal our jobs and contaminate our culture”, therefore it has to be opposed by all means.

As a consequence of that, non-EU migrants have been prevented from legally entering our country – with very few exceptions – and EU migrants have even been targeted by Conservative politicians, fuelling the flame of public opinion that they are exploiting our NHS and other social services.

Studies have shown that even in the Brexit vote, anti-migration sentiments were crucial in determining the referendum outcome. In such an anti-migration climate, even the most desperate migrants have been targeted – the women, men, and child refugees and asylum seekers who have escaped war or violence in their home countries. Once considered vulnerable subjects, and therefore entitled to a safe haven by international norms, they are now perceived to be here to spoil our welfare state and live on benefits.

Obviously, such an understanding of migration and asylum makes any serious attempt at integration of migrants and refugees very difficult, to say the least. On the contrary, what we should all aim for is the integration of these people in our society. Why? For very pragmatic and fact-driven reasons on the one hand, and moral and ethical imperatives on the other.

First, on the pragmatic side most of these people will stay in this country for some time. It could be a semester, which is the least an asylum demand lasts for, or a decade as war and conflicts last for years. No matter how long they stay, having them feeling part of our society and contributing to it by working, studying, volunteering or engaging would be much better than keeping them in a limbo with no occupation and no social connection nor interest.

Second, because we need migrants and refugees. According to Eurostat data, in the UK already almost one in 10 employees or workers is a foreign national, and in a country with a low unemployment rate like ours, that means that migrants and refugees do not steal jobs but that they actively contribute to the UK's wealth. Moreover, having a job is the most straightforward way to feel part of a society, to contribute to its economic success, and to live a fulfilling life. There is no doubt about this: all current research confirms the positive role that entering the labour market has for integration purposes, and not only for migrants and refugees but for society as a whole. Therefore, we should learn from those migrants and refugees that are already part of our employment and we should promote further employment opportunities also for those who stay in the country for shorter periods, like the time an asylum seeker waits for his or her claim to be scrutinised.

Data collected by the Sirius project – an EU-funded study led by Glasgow Caledonian University – shows that the UK attracts highly skilled and educated migrants more than most other European countries do: in the UK four out of 10 foreign nationals have attained a tertiary educational level. In the context of global economic competition where skills and education play a fundamental role, the capabilities of migrants and refugees represent an asset for the hosting country rather than a burden.

Such a fact-based understanding of migration implies the political courage to offer proper legal avenues for both so-called economic migrants and refugees/asylum seekers, and it needs actions to support their integration rather than their rejection.

Indeed, this more fact-based approach sounds not that new in Glasgow and Scotland, where migrants have been part of the culture, economy and society for many years. And the reaction of Glasgow-based voluntary organisations, religious bodies, local authorities and local MPs to Serco’s eviction decision unveils the experience, the capacity and the solidarity potential that exists in Glasgow and in Scotland to solve problems related to different types of vulnerabilities – which is at odds with the current UK way of delivering services and solving problems.

While Glasgow has put in place a society-based network of competence and resources that act to mitigate different types of vulnerabilities to avoid destitution and discrimination of rejected asylum seekers or homeless people, among others, the Serco’s model of service provision is the application of a neoliberal understanding of what the state and public services should be. One in which service provision is first considered in terms of economic cost-benefit analysis regardless of what the service really looks like and of what the effects on service recipients are. This is the same principle used to reform disability benefits or employment services, the farming out to private providers of key state functions, disregarding the fact that the main aim of companies to which services are outsourced is very often to seek profit, and to protect their shareholders' interest rather then the general public one.

Finally, the moral considerations. When thinking about migrants and refugees we should remember more often that we Europeans have invented the notion of human rights, that our social and legal systems are built around human dignity and the sacredness of each human life. Therefore, we have a duty to support those in need. Not to mention the fact we are and have been migrants ourselves for generations and that we have been "unwanted" migrants too.

The Serco episode makes it all the more crucial to think more broadly about the model of society we want – if we prefer to promote a society where vulnerabilities become destitutions, where migrants and refugees are left in ghettos or limbos and the further problems that could generate, or whether we deserve a different society and therefore we pursue a serious, fact-based, and pragmatic migration and asylum policy. One that approaches migration and asylum with a non-aprioristic position, one that respects people’s vulnerabilities and fragility, and make the most out of them. One that explores any possible opportunity for migrants and refugees to keep contributing in a positive way to our society and economy. If we manage to do that, we might have a different message to send out of the Serco affair than what we might have initially thought.

Simone Baglioni is professor of politics at Glasgow Caledonian University and principal investigator on project SIRIUS – a £2.5 million Europe-wide project, led by GCU researchers, exploring how to integrate migrants, refugees and asylum seekers into European Labour markets.