Granting amnesty to long-term illegal immigrants in the UK, could add up to £3bn to the economy, a report has said.
The London School of Economics report said amnesty would not lead to a rise in migration but would raise spending on welfare services and housing.
It is estimated that between 600,000 and 1,000,000 people are illegally in the UK of which around 440,000 are thought to be in London.
London Mayor Boris Johnson, who commissioned the study, said it proved immigrants were “far from a financial burden” and had highlighted “long overdue facts”.
The study found that if a five-year residency plan was introduced 67% of illegal immigrants would be eligible to live in the UK.
Mr Johnson said:
“This new report has introduced some long overdue facts, hard evidence and academic rigour into a debate which has far too often been dominated by myth, anecdote and hearsay.
“So, far from a financial burden, as some suggest, this new research has found an amnesty could be worth up to £3bn a year to the country’s economy.
“The study also demolishes the argument that an amnesty would inevitably lead to increased migration to the UK and identifies effective border controls as the vital factor in controlling and deterring illegal immigration.”
Successive Ministers have rejected calls for any form of amnesty and the current Border and Immigration Minister, Phil Woolas, had said the mayor’s call for amnesty was “naive” and would lead to more trafficking of people.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
“The policy on an amnesty for illegal immigrants remains unchanged and is very clear – there will be no amnesty, those here illegally should go home.
“We have a proud tradition of offering sanctuary to those who truly need our help, but to grant an amnesty would create a significant pull factor to the UK and would undermine the asylum system as a whole.”
According to the National Audit Office, the deportation of all illegal immigrants would cost the UK £4.7bn.
Since 1998 111,265 illegal entrants have been deported, at the cost to the UK of £11,000 per person.
Immigration Matters Comment
Leading think tank, ippr, said it would it would take at least 20 years to find and remove half a million illegal immigrants.
The UK Border Agency carry out regular raids on employers who are thought to be using illegal immigrants imposing fines of up to £10,000 per illegal worker. However, due to restrictions and limited resources many of the people caught working are released and ordered to report to the agency at special centres.
In reality, the raids are really only chipping away at the surface of the problem, which continues to grow as more people overstay or arrive in the UK illegally.
The Government will most likely introduce some sort of “regularisation” scheme for a section of overstaying migrants, similar to previous schemes in the nineties.
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