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Liberal Democrat want amnesty for illegal immigrants, but will it work? | Immigration Matters

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Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrat party favour an amnesty for people illegally in Britain, but both Labour and the Conservatives suggest it would actually make the problem worse. 

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford has written an interesting article which asks ‘Is an amnesty the answer’?

Nobody really knows how many “irregular migrants” there are in the UK, but one recent estimate by the London School of Economics put it at 618,000 – within a range of 417,000 to 863,000.

The Liberal Democrats say it is now time to “regularise” those who have been here longest, so they can integrate into the legal economy and contribute to the exchequer by paying taxes.

They are calling it an “earned route to citizenship”, but they also say they have no idea how many people would qualify.

Their manifesto says: “We will allow people who have been in Britain without the correct papers for 10 years, but speak English, have a clean record and want to live here long-term to earn their citizenship. This route to citizenship will not apply to people arriving after 2010.”

Probed further, party officials tell me that those who qualify will then have to serve a probationary period of two years during which they would have to work and pay taxes.

Then they would have to pay a fee or do voluntary service as “penance” to qualify for full citizenship.

Would an amnesty work?

Such amnesties have been tried before.

Researchers at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford have looked at previous studies, in particular ones of a United States amnesty in 1986.

They found that “almost all show that the large-scale amnesty implemented in 1986 has not reduced, and has in fact increased, undocumented migration to the US, since it established new migration flows due to networks and family ties”.

A total of 2.7m qualified for the amnesty in 1986. By 2000 there were an estimated 9.3m illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Meanwhile, Spain had six amnesties in 20 years. In that time the illegal population rose from 44,000 to 700,000 – a 15-fold increase.

However, the Liberal Democrats argue there is no link between the amnesties and the later rise in the number of illegal immigrants entering the two countries.

In fact, leader Nick Clegg told Reality Check it was far better to be “smart about this” and get such immigrants “out of the shadows” and into the hands of the tax man.

He also questioned how illegal immigrants could be deported when the authorities didn’t know where they lived.

Tougher laws wanted

But what is clear is the Liberal Democrats are sticking their neck out on this. A recent opinion poll by Ipsos-MORI suggested that 65% of the population want tougher immigration laws , against just 4% who want the laws relaxed.

Some of the party’s policies do involve tightening up rules. For example they want to immediately re-introduce exit checks – or embarkation controls – on everyone leaving the country.

But there are other relaxations too, like allowing asylum seekers who are still awaiting a decision on their case to take up employment.

The Liberal Democrats say the other parties simply do not have policies to deal with the large numbers of people living in the UK without proper papers.

They also say honesty is their best policy and they point out that in polling immediately after last week’s TV debate, Mr Clegg was scoring higher on immigration than Tory leader David Cameron.

Source: BBC  

Immigration Matters Comment 

The Liberal Democrats are the only main party willing to face this problem squarely and honestly.

Up to now most would argue that Nick Clegg can afford to have radical policies because he has no chance of gaining power and ever implementing them.

But following Nick Cleggs performance during last week’s first televised election debate and the subsequent leap in popularity of the Lib Dems and the possibility of a hung Parliament, all this could have changed.

Labour has ruled out an amnesty, but has introduced a number of ‘concessions’ in the past, which are effectively an amnesty by another name, such as the recent ‘legacy cases’ scheme for asylum seekers.

There is already a 14 year concession whereby a person who has been in the UK illegally for more than 14 years can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). The number of years needed to qualify under this scheme could be reduced to include more overstayers.

A full scale amnesty would hardly be a vote winner but whoever forms the next government will have to deal with the issue of how to deport up to a million overstayers and illegal immigrants.

Based on figures of finding a removing 500,000 illegal immigrants, leading think tank, ippr, says it would take 20 years and cost £5 billion.

What’s your view? Will an amnesty make things better or worse?

See also:

‘Amnesty’ for thousands of asylum seekers

Immigration question kicks off TV election debate

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27 Responses to “Liberal Democrat want amnesty for illegal immigrants, but will it work?”
Read them below or add one

  1. […] Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrat party favour an all out amnesty for people illegally in Britain, but both Labour and the Conservatives suggest it would actually make the problem […]

  2. my visit visa to uk have been refused by the ECO on the findings of my previous biometrict in respect of my asylum case in the uk, against this refusal i appeald to AIT, which is also turned down, now i honestly want just to visit for two monts to UK can i apply again for visit visa as i am an old lady and my daughters are living in uk

  3. Dear Sir

    I have been living in this country for the last ten years. I came in the uk as visitor and for some reasons I never got back to my country.
    Is there any chance for me to apply for an indefinite leave to stay on the basis of the human right act?


  4. I dont think amnesty is good idea and I am not up for it as this will increase number of more illegal in this country. for argument sake lets say illegal people are given british papers but you think this will not increase population here in UK,obviously it will,those who are given british papers will call the family here etc….And if the government think they will pay taxes they have another thing coming.People dont pay taxes they only pay taxes up until they get british papers after that they work full time whereas the tax man does not know and on other hand they claim benefit,wow what a way.I live in an asian community I have reported so many illegal people to enforcement unit but nothing gets done,our government has made us loose all our rights to these asylum seekers and over stayers.there are so many bogus colleges here and student from abroad get a student visa just like that and when they come here they dont study but they work full time instead where is the immigration law gone then.I am from Pakistan, in last few months I have seen someone who has not knowledge of english or anything they get the student visa so easily through and agent paying them £5000 or sometimes even more,I just dont understand if people want to study why cant they study in there own country?Well last but not least I BEG the UK government to deport these illegal people and toughen the immigration laws?please please….at least give us our rights back for God sake.

  5. Mr Glegg is certainly an honest man with open and sinsere policy, not just in the case of this amnesty proposals but others aswell.
    Thank God Mr Brown is out and David has not got the total power to continue to shy way from this loads of humans who live in fear and humilations.
    Of course immigration should be effectively managed but those already here and intergrated should and must be given some sort of fine to earn a right of stay.
    And Brown and David are indeed blind to say an amnesty well open door for more people to come to the Uk. How did the numbers of illegal get to this?, is it an amnesty?, sinply tight up the borders and bering out the hinding onces to the hands of the tax man as mr clegg say, that will bering more fund to the revenue.

  6. […] Liberal Democrat want amnesty for illegal immigrants, but will it work? […]

  7. […] Liberal Democrat want amnesty for illegal immigrants, but will it work? […]

  8. […] Liberal Democrat want amnesty for illegal immigrants, but will it work? […]

  9. […] Liberal Democrat want amnesty for illegal immigrants, but will it work? […]

  10. its good but if you have a good plan, i will give some ideas when time is come

  11. Michael Pickett says :

    It’s a pity Nick Clegg did not challenge Brown to justify labour’s 14 year rule in light of Brown’s attack on the Libdem ‘amnesty’.

  12. Liauat Ali Qureshi says :

    I highly appreciated your articlesa rgarding uk immigration/I am an RFL just arrieved Pakistan a week back and i was able to have wondeful knowledge thorough your immigration matter. thanks


  13. charles says :

    i think nick is the next obama he is genuine real,because he is the only one who sees this matter about amnesty. none of the other parties think about other people ,only want to get into no 10,it is a wise dicision,and may god help him to win this election,so that he can help all those people in the shadows,to come out in the light,to work hard pay tax,and to do the right thing.god bless u nick clegg.i hope u continue in jesus name.amen

  14. The issue of amnesty is important,also the so called illegal immigrants could still be waiting patiencetly for the 14yrs that is still in place and it all bois down to be the same so why not do it once and for all. and stop using delay tactis. and someof them even pay tax so what are we saying.

  15. paul chester says :

    amnesty for illegals immigrants dat dnt commit crime, spk english, ready to understand and learn our ways of life and intergrate.

    way forward…

  16. Sam McCain says :

    nick clegg was the only one with realistic plans for the immigration system of our country. turning a blind eye to it would just give rise to hatred parties like BNPs whos plans cnt come into manifestation in the real world, taling of deporting every1 and turning the country white “english” non sense.
    Amnesty for those who have been in the country for sum time and not been a criminal and willing to work and not claim benefits for two years unless worked and paid taxes then can get full leave to remain, im sure all those thousands illegals would take it up and would be in the system to be monitored rather than being in secret and can easy commit crime and cnt be found traced. relying on deportation cant solve this but first legalising those in first and offering them intergration classes to feel british or respect our way of lives and then close the boarders ensuring no more illegals and then it would be easier to tackle new illegals.. europe legalise people from there who now feels the need that england is the next destination dats cos we are fair over here but if we can withdraw from europe union wateva den we can also control mass immigration rom these countries without work permits but they can come on holidays just like we go there but nt to settle unless they want to renounce thier citizenships and become others’
    but we should realise also that its gonna be tough for those brits living and working in europe too and other countries in the world, so in turn wen u say no more coming here for any reason, then they can also close thier boarder and dat cnt help the economy either cos most countries and Britain included cant honestly say they are self reliant for everything.

  17. […] Liberal Democrat want amnesty for illegal immigrants, but will it work? […]

  18. Dear Sirs
    I personaly think MR NICK CLEGG’S is quiet right about amnesty.we have about 500 to 800 thousents of illegal immegrant in this country.if the laber and conservative are not happy about it or if they think that is wrong can i ask;1)DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE ILLEGAL ASYLUM SEEKERS ARE LIVING?
    i think if illegal immegrant get amnesty it helps this country to grove up moor and i know many illegal immegrant are ready to do business.many asylum seekers got money but they dont have bank account.and many many other benefite you can have out of illegal asylum seekers.

  19. A amnesty would work if they take into account people living elligally in UK for 2 years or more.

  20. yes amnesty can make a change.when you look in to what he as said there is really a point there.i have got friends who have there paper works in the home office for over nine years an they do hear anything about it,why? home office is the reason most people is illegal they take too long to sort out the paper that been there for years,thats why we have so much illegal people here,they should answer an let them know from that point about there case an dont let it wait that long,they are the ones that make the country full of so many illegal people.give NICK a chance.

  21. There must be an amnesty for Illegal people & it will work out.

  22. regarding the amnesty issues i guess it’s time to give people amnesty, as we all know that they stay illegally because of poverty in their own country. They sacrifice not to see their family for a very long period of time to give them more support and better life. And these illegal workers or people under the shadows they are good workers and at the same time they are paying taxes and no criminal records. Immagine, a lot of peole from different countries only communicate to their families thru phones or internet just to give their children a good educations. For sure they won’t stay here illegally if they know they can survive backhomes or if they can support their families. As we all know a lot of countries who suffer from poverty. So to all who has a power to grant an amnesty please consider them…
    thank you very much…

  23. Tieanna says :

    I think Britain really needed the financial support
    of these illegal immigrants, once they give them the Amnesty so they could earn the right to work and pay there taxes. This would give the immigrants a chance to contribute to the economy..

  24. S R Teji says :

    Grant amnesty and plug the border tight for no more entry illegally. For not granting amnesty: it is a ‘modern slavery in the modern country’. At present UK have the worst of all worlds turning a blind eye to illegal immigrants. Grant amnesty, you will be seen with respectful eyes by the world being humane to the humanity. Mr. Nick Clegg is a lion-headed leader who generate such a nice ideas in his mind to grant amnesty to the long awaited agonised undocumented who spend sleepless nights being away from their near and dear ones since years. Certainly they will contribute to boost the economy by paying taxes.

  25. Jasson says :

    Britain should really give an amnesty for undocumented migrant to clean up all the immigration problems by earning citizenship scheme, let them come out from the underground and get the tax then both will be benefited. specially think about the humanitarian ground. I support an amnesty with Nick Clegg.

  26. Cesar Brede says :

    Britain need to see this on the humanitarian ground, as said by Nick Clegg we can go on like that ignoring these people living uderground in this country.
    So I’m ok with the amnesty .

  27. […] and Brown both said that giving an amnesty would send out the wrong message and encourage further illegal […]

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