The government has ruled out an amnesty for the estimated 570,000 illegal immigrants currently in the UK
Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, said the Home Office would bring forward proposals which would be tough but fair, but an amnesty has not been considered appropriate.
Mr Byrne had previously openly discussed the idea of an amnesty but has now firmly dismissed the possibility.
Speaking on the eve of a major report by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which will call for an amnesty, he said: “Having almost completed our review, we can say that we will be ruling out an amnesty and will be instead bringing forward plans over the next two weeks for fair but tough enforcement of the rules.
“We’ll not only strengthen our people but the tools they have to do the job.”
The JCWI argued that illegals who have been in the UK for at least two years should be given the right to stay and, after seven years in Britain, any illegal immigrants with no serious criminal record should be allowed to remain permanently.
Last night Habib Rahman, JCW’s chief executive, urged the government to find a solution to the estimated 570,000 illegal immigrants in the UK, including failed asylum seekers.
He said: “It’s a political reality that around half a million irregular migrants can’t readily be deported and EU migration alone cannot be relied on to fill the jobs many of them are doing,” he said.
David Davis, Shadow Home Secretary, welcomed the decision saying: “It was the height of stupidity to even talk about having an illegal immigrant amnesty, and it is welcome but overdue that they have now dismissed this policy.”
Mark Hunter, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, said: “What’s required is a considered immigration policy which looks constructively at the criteria by which we allow people to stay in Britain.”
In reality, a full scale amnesty was never really on the cards and a controversial term like “amnesty” would certainly not be used be used. However, the government still needs to find a solution to problem what to do with half illegal immigrants. As we have previously reported, thousands of these people have National Insurance Numbers, work for major employers and even pay taxes.
More likely solution is a compromise or “concession”. In the past the Home Office has introduced “concessions” for special cases which fall outside the normal rules, as in the 1998 Domestic Workers Concession.
For regular immigration updates see www.immigrationmatters.co.uk