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  • Should there be an amnesty for illegal immigrants?


    by Rumbold
    10th April, 2008 at 8:07 pm    

    Over at Liberal Conspiracy, Jess McCabe highlights that the three main London Mayoral candidates support an amnesty for illegal immigrants:

    “Estimates of the number of illegal workers range from 500,000 to 700,000, half of which may be failed asylum-seekers. An estimated two-thirds of illegal migrants work in London and the South-east, in cleaning, catering, hospitality and construction. Because they do not have legal rights, their pay and conditions are subject to abrupt changes.”

    There are plenty of good arguments for such an amnesty. Allowing illegal immigrants to assume a legal status would offer more protection to them, which would mean that they would have less chance of being exploited by unscrupulous bosses and other criminal elements, who previously had been able to treat illegal immigrants badly, safe in the knowledge that they would be unable to go to the police. Especially at risk are trafficked women, who fear being deported if they confessed their true situation. As these poor souls are at the bottom of today’s society, anything to alleviate their plight deserves a hearing.

    De-criminalisation of illegal immigrants also has benefits for the rest of society too. The IPPR calculates that if illegal immigrants were to pay tax on their earnings, then the Treasury could collect anywhere between £1 billion and £3.3 billion per year. Not having to pursue suspected illegal immigrants would free up police time, enabling them to go after real criminals. Without a backlog, the immigration service should be able to process future claims more quickly, leading to a fairer system. The proposed amnesty also means that those with notable criminal records would not be eligible to become citizens, thus reducing the chances of giving citizenship to undeserving people.

    Yet there are also powerful arguments against an amnesty. Would an amnesty really solve the long-term problems of our immigration system (namely an inability to track entrants and process claims quickly and fairly), or is it simply a brief respite until the problems return again? I don’t think that it is fair on those who tried to get into the country and left when the state told them to, or those who would miss out on an amnesty. We treat Gurkhas badly, despite them fighting for us, yet this proposal would reward people who broke the law. Could an amnesty cause bigger problems in the future, as illegal immigrants would know that if they held on long enough there might be another amnesty? Racial tensions could worsen, as the BNP and others could portray illegal immigrants as above the law.

    I am minded to support this amnesty as the best option on the table, but am still nagged by doubts. Deep down, is this much different from the BAE fraud case? There too were plenty of reasons to ignore the rule of law: jobs would have been put at risk, that is how the Saudis do business, counter-terrorism would have been hampered, they are needed as a bulwark against Iran and so on. Yet it still left a sour taste in the mouth. I know that downtrodden immigrants and defence companies/Saudi royals do not merit the same degrees of sympathy, but once we undermine the rule of law, where do we stop? Does helping those poor unfortunates justify such a step, or should we concentrate on fixing the immigration system instead?

    Update: To clarify my viewpoint, I want to see most illegal immigrants allowed to stay. But not on the basis of an amnesty (unless no better solution is proposed). Rather, a change in the law is necessary which would have allowed people like that to stay in the first place, which ensures that the law is not undermined, and more importantly means that your average immigrant/asluym seeker is not placed in the position that so many find themselves in now.


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    1. Britblog Roundup 17th April 2008: The Gynaecological Edition | The Wardman Wire

      [...] Rumbold over at Pickled Politics is thinking about the possibility of an Amnesty for illegal immigrants. [...]


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    1. Sunny — on 10th April, 2008 at 8:18 pm  

      On your arguments against:

      Would an amnesty really solve the long-term problems of our immigration system

      No, but not having an amnesty would not solve them easier. But it would get rid of a biog backlog and make the process cleaner going ahead.

      yet this proposal would reward people who broke the law

      Not necessarily. A lot of ‘illegal’ people here are asylum seekers genuinely running away from war and strife, but have had to run away from the authorities because of threats of deportation.

      but once we undermine the rule of law, where do we stop?

      Its a case of being sensible. These people can never be deported because the number is too big and they are too dispersed. Which basically means we prosecute or deport the ones easily found or harassed (usually women). So deportation is not going to happen and yet you don’t want to make them legal as a matter of principle… which means we tolerate and ignore slavery right under our noses.

      Morally that doesn’t work.

    2. Chris — on 10th April, 2008 at 8:25 pm  

      These people generally come from countries that their own countrymen have screwed up and now they are comming here to screw up our country.
      I do not want half of Africa,India or Pakistan here and no politicion has ever asked any British Person if they want their country taken over by a load of suspect foreigners.

    3. Rumbold — on 10th April, 2008 at 8:26 pm  

      Sunny:

      “No, but not having an amnesty would not solve them easier. But it would get rid of a biog backlog and make the process cleaner going ahead.”

      Who is to say that the same problems wouldn’t then emerge later on? The fundamental flaws in the system won’t be fixed by this.

      “Not necessarily. A lot of ‘illegal’ people here are asylum seekers genuinely running away from war and strife, but have had to run away from the authorities because of threats of deportation … Which basically means we prosecute or deport the ones easily found or harassed (usually women). So deportation is not going to happen and yet you don’t want to make them legal as a matter of principle… which means we tolerate and ignore slavery right under our noses.”

      Sorry, you missed my point there. I was not saying that they were bad people (as I tried to make clear throughout), simply that they broke the law. I don’t wan’t to see them deported anymore than you do, but I would rather see the immigration laws changed to allow more people, especially asluym seekers to stay. I am leaning towards an amnesy, but I know that if one happens we won’t have got to the root of the problem, namely that we are deporting those we shouldn’t be. I would rather say to illegal immigrants that due to a change in the law they can stay, rather than make it a one-off thing. That is different from an amnesty, as it would actually sort out the whole system.

    4. Boyo — on 10th April, 2008 at 10:20 pm  

      Legalising them would not be unreasonable in a country which had a competent govt. However, we all know that legalisation would not go hand in hand with sensible immigration policies or secure borders.

      Therefore legalising illegals would simply, as Rumbold says, reward law breakers and would not be accompanied by any moves to prevent the situation occurring in the future. Rather it would encourage more illegal immigration - I can hear the calls already by the “human rights” industry, how can it be fair to make one lot legal and not another? Etc ad infinitum.

      As for the argument that “oh well, I’m sure the asylum seekers had a good reason to come here”, well that’s valid, but sadly it stands for most of the rest of the world, which I don’t think is a sound basis on which to develop immigration policy. Although it seems to have been the starting point of Labour’s.

    5. zeezil — on 10th April, 2008 at 11:22 pm  

      Amnesty for illegal aliens? HELL NO! Deportations should be the order. The more we become a nation of illegal immigrants, the deeper we fall into anarchy.

    6. Sunny — on 10th April, 2008 at 11:29 pm  

      Who is to say that the same problems wouldn’t then emerge later on?

      The backlog should make it easier to sort out problems going ahead. But Amnesty or not, the slowness of the immigration / border control people is an issue. But it doesn’t make an argument for or against Amnesty.

      simply that they broke the law.

      They didn’t necessarily break any law - the govt has classified them as such. And anyway, a lot of them are NOT illegal. You can’t be an illegal asylum seeker because there is nothing know as a legal asylum seekers. There is only an asylum seeker. So not all these people are illegal. They’re just in a legal no-man’s land because they can’t work legally and nether can they go back ‘home’.

      but I know that if one happens we won’t have got to the root of the problem, namely that we are deporting those we shouldn’t be.

      It will somewhat because the govt, in its efforts to pretend its doing something, ends up trying to deport the most vulnerable groups. If offered Amnesty, they would no longer be harassed by immigration services.

    7. Planeshift — on 10th April, 2008 at 11:35 pm  

      “now they are comming here to screw up our country.”

      Oohhh Scary.

      When’s the film out?

    8. Dalbir — on 11th April, 2008 at 12:14 am  

      ——————-
      These people generally come from countries that their own countrymen have screwed up and now they are comming here to screw up our country.
      I do not want half of Africa,India or Pakistan here and no politicion has ever asked any British Person if they want their country taken over by a load of suspect foreigners.
      ——————-

      A Snickers bar to the first person to spot the potential BNP supporter.

    9. Viz — on 11th April, 2008 at 3:48 am  

      The more selfish people are, the more they oblivious about others’ plight. Live and let live.Nobody is here forever or you might take your NI and British Passport with you in your grave.

    10. platinum786 — on 11th April, 2008 at 10:49 am  

      you can either continue dreaming of deporting them, or you can legalise them, all of them work, take their taxes, and in return they have to shop how they got into the country, and give explicit details of who let them in. We should then punish those people, the traffickers, rather than the victims. With the information we gather we could build up and informed border police and get into trafficking networks worldwide and bring them down.

    11. MaidMarian — on 11th April, 2008 at 12:17 pm  

      ‘Should there be an amnesty for illegal immigrants?’

      NO. Definitey not.

      The comment at 6 confuses the issue. As ever in discussing immigration we have to distinguish EXACTLY who it is we are speaking about. Asylum seekers who are in the country legally and illegal immigrants are distinct groups and need to be considered differently.

      For what it’s worth, your overall prescription of massively changing the law is the right one, and I suspect that money may have to be thrown at this too. The other unspoken issue is that racially sensitive toes may have to be stepped on in any drive to get a hold of the issues here.

      It is also worth pointing out that those of us (my wife is an immigrant) who have jumped through the bureaucratic hoops, lived with the uncertainty of ‘no recourse’ visas and paid high fees would be essentially be insulted by watching out-and-out law-breakers be rewarded for illegality.

      platinum786 (10) - Sorry, to my mind the people you are talking about are not ‘victims.’ They may be in dire straits, but unless they have been moved absolutely against their will they are to my mind complicit in breaking or conspiring to break immigration law at least to some degree. Unless they thought that all countries operate open borders.

    12. jer mynor — on 11th April, 2008 at 6:44 pm  

      Amnesty is the most rediculous suggestion I have heard.
      Have you gone completely off your rocker ?
      Why do you forget they broke the Law, regardless of the reason..!!!
      There are fines and penalities for breaking the Law…!!! When did you fall off the common sense train ?
      Listen, Illegals cost us , the taxpayer $ 19,000 more because of their invasion. ( $ 866 Billion per year)

      Now I raised 6 of my own and no one asked me if I want to support lesser status persons for their lives.

      It is a christianly thing and so on and on, BUT, we all made it in our country, why dont they go and protest in their own country , build it up to what we have over the years, instead of jumping the fence to capitalize on our good fortunes.

      This is nothing more than thievery…!!! Now you want to also reward them with forgiveness….Your a real lulu….
      There have been persons waiting in line to enter this country for as long as 14 years, those who are learned in higher professions, who speak the language, and would be an immediate asset to our country. What about granting admittance to them ?

      Why reward bad boys instead of these fine people who are also from the Hispanic communities who got off their dead asses and became something…Are the lawbreakers just lazy..?

      I dont want to call you any names, but lady, you have lost your logical thinking and have forgot this country has quotas for immigration, and now its been shot to hell forever, because you want to grant them immunity….
      What a country that completely craps on those who have worked to become something and we now just forget that honesty and LEGAL rules…!!!
      Discard those good for those bad….@#$%^&* ???????

    13. francisco — on 11th April, 2008 at 7:16 pm  

      Hello everyone excuse my spelling ESL

      Im an illegal alien in the USA i came here
      when i was 11 and im now 26,so i really had no choice,
      I work and pay my taxes, and my record is clean
      and now i have a family my kids where born here
      i have worked and done everything by the law
      I can understand why alot of people are againest
      legalising illegal immigrants, as i see alot of them
      are lazy and are up to no good, but for everyone of
      thoes 3 like me who have lived here all of our lifes
      done everything by the book but are struglin to make a life for our familys because our parents chose to bring us here, i mean yes i could go back to mexico
      but what will i do there, i cant feed my family on 150
      dollars every 15 days, my kids wont get a good education there so im in a way forced to stay here
      and go from job to job w/o a chance to become legal
      because i get treated as a law braker, eaven thoug i had no choice, so basicaly my point is that they need look at people like me that have been here for a long time have clean records and have worked and paid taxes while here, and are looking to provide for there
      families. they need to look at people that have been here for 10 plus years and have clean records thoes are the pople who should be legaliced, and by doing that it would make it easier to single out criminals and such, sorry if i dont make to much sense

    14. francisco — on 11th April, 2008 at 7:26 pm  

      jer mynor

      sounds like you dont know anything your just an angry person inside do some homework before you open your mouth
      theres lots of familys that are here because back in there countries they would either be dead or living under a shack what would you do if your family and kids where in that situation??? i understand what people are saying and i agree thee is a lot criminals
      but theres also alot of familys that are fighting for there familys so that they can have a decent live, and like i said i pay taxes and get nothing back do some research on TIN (tax identification number) it lets people like me that are illegal do our taxes
      last year i was suppouse to get back 3000 but htats if i had a good SS since i dont i got nothing where do you think money goes?

    15. Rumbold — on 11th April, 2008 at 8:09 pm  

      Sunny:

      “They didn’t necessarily break any law - the govt has classified them as such. And anyway, a lot of them are NOT illegal. You can’t be an illegal asylum seeker because there is nothing know as a legal asylum seekers. There is only an asylum seeker. So not all these people are illegal. They’re just in a legal no-man’s land because they can’t work legally and nether can they go back ‘home’.”

      If you are a failed asluym seeker, and have escaped deportation, then you have broken the law.

      “If offered Amnesty, they would no longer be harassed by immigration services.”

      But then the next lot would.

      MaidMarian:

      “The other unspoken issue is that racially sensitive toes may have to be stepped on in any drive to get a hold of the issues here.”

      Yes, we will have to grasp the bull by the horns.

      Jer mynor:

      “Have you gone completely off your rocker?”

      Certainly, but that does not invalidate the argument.

      “Listen, Illegals cost us , the taxpayer $ 19,000 more because of their invasion. ( $ 866 Billion per year).”

      Actually, they probably save you money, as they do jobs nobody else wants and keep the economy functioning. On a side note, this is a debate about immigration in Britain, although the issues raised are pertinent in any developed country.

      “It is a christianly thing and so on and on, BUT, we all made it in our country, why dont they go and protest in their own country , build it up to what we have over the years, instead of jumping the fence to capitalize on our good fortunes.

      This is nothing more than thievery…!!! Now you want to also reward them with forgiveness….Your a real lulu….”

      The average illegal immigrant does not want to suckle on the taxpayers’ teat, but make a better life for themselves, and/or escape persecution.

      Francisco:

      “Im an illegal alien in the USA i came here
      when i was 11 and im now 26,so i really had no choice,
      I work and pay my taxes, and my record is clean
      and now i have a family my kids where born here.”

      And I suspect that your story is far from unusual among illegal immigrants.

    16. Don — on 11th April, 2008 at 8:17 pm  

      jer,

      The discussion is on UK immigration.

      For the record, I don’t see a full amnesty (in the sense that if you have managed to set foot in the country you can stay) is a good idea. But where someone has been here, say, three years, can show a clean criminal record and has worked to support themselves then they should be cut some slack. Perhaps a two year temporary residence permit (with NI number etc) which translates to a permanent one if they continue as they have done.

      For the most part this proposal seems to be aimed at the army of people without status who do the jobs no-one else is prepared to do. We know they are here, the authorities know they are here, but as long as they provide cheap peon labour no-one really wants them gone. Their illegal status is just a sly way of condoning what is effectively a helot class.

    17. Don — on 11th April, 2008 at 8:36 pm  

      Oh, and, jer - a couple of points.

      Although the dictionary allows ‘illegal’ as a noun as well as an adjective, common courtesy doesn’t. Defining a human being as ‘an illegal’ is something we should avoid, for reasons which should be obvious.

      On the ‘christianly’ thing; I’m not a christian myself (I’m guessing you are, excuse the presumption) but I am familiar with the religion and the charity to strangers/ forgiveness parts of it are not optional extras. They are commonly treated as such, but you really are supposed to take the whole package seriously, not just the parts that match your inclinations.

    18. Said — on 13th April, 2008 at 3:10 am  

      I can’t see why some IDIOTS from the US hopped in this discussion and start moaning. THIS IS ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN THE UK and they are not Hispanics, you
      bunch of morons

    19. keisha green — on 16th April, 2008 at 10:31 am  

      I strong think so, because three was a time when i didn’t have my case in the home office, because of my grandaunt, she told me that, she send my passport off for leave to remain in the country, and when i become homeless, that when i found out i was illegal all those time, now me and my daughter case in the home office, we dont know what will be the answer and i’m study at this moment, so i think yes for amnesty

    20. keisha green — on 16th April, 2008 at 10:36 am  

      I notice, one comment that the illegal cost them, but if they dont give the illegal a chance how can they prove them self, by working and look after there family, we cant just judge and not prove people, if you dont give a chance how will they see if they are here to grab or to work

    21. keisha green — on 16th April, 2008 at 10:45 am  

      offer to people without criminal record and willing to work and pay tax, i feel strong that will be fair, because you wouldn’t give leave to remain if the person have bad criminal record in it.

    22. tilly — on 17th April, 2008 at 9:39 am  

      There a lot of people in the UK that has ended up as illegal immigrants for many other reason than those stated,

      1. Some were not able to keep up with their student fees, having to pay college fees of thousands a year, plus rent a room, plus living expenses on working only 20 hours a week. Sorry I know that there are thousands that make it by this method, but there are hundreds that are not able to do the same.

      2 There are some that have put in a status claim to the home office and the home office has kept their passport for years and left them without legal status.

      3. There are people that sent in legitimate status claims with the appropriate fees, the home office has kept their passports for significant periods of time only to then later on refuse them for no reason and yet still keep the money.

      4.And then there is me, I went a ‘lawyer’ who sent my passport to the home office for indefinite leave to remain status,which I got. GUESS WHAT?? The status was fake!! I only found this out a few weeks ago. I have worked really hard and made a life for myself in the UK and have nothing to go back home to.

      There are a lot of things and reasons why people are illegal in this country,other than, coming here to purposely brak the law. If anyone out there works in the home office or has a family member or friend, they will know that I speak the truth.

    23. dfdfd — on 24th April, 2008 at 10:49 am  

      hi my name is Agron from kosovo,i am ilegall about 9years in this country, this is absolutly wrong,WHY i am ilegall WHY

    24. james — on 24th April, 2008 at 2:54 pm  

      i am supportive towards the amnesy law for illegal immigrants and i think it gives people a better scope for life. it will help these people to have a better quality of life and even better so contribute more to this country. financially, they are already contributing but acquiring legal rights will not only boost their confidence but also help developing this country for the better. i don’t yhink people should live under the fear of deportation.
      everybody should have a better quality of life and amnesty would certainly fit the bill for them.

    25. james — on 24th April, 2008 at 3:01 pm  

      it’s true that you have people who comes here to purposely break the law but on the other hand you have people who have worked really hard all their life. people who have devoted their whole career to the uk but yet they are illegal and absolutely no quality of life or whatsoever. can we help these people obtaining what they really deserve? you can always deny unlawful immigrants but those who don’t have any criminal records deserve a chance for citizenship.

    26. Agroni — on 28th April, 2008 at 11:47 am  

      hi my name is Agron im from kosovo. i am illegal for 9 years in england why ?

    27. f1 — on 29th April, 2008 at 2:33 pm  

      Hi we are in the U.K for more than 10 years illegal ,when i came in the U.K i apply for asylum on :feb 1998,i was ony 15 years old teenager ,so many peopel from my contry kosovo arriven in the U.K after me the hawe status to stay, for me no, why im difrent from them , we are no other relatives in kosovo im long of residence in th U.K im working in the U.K and contributed to britsh society ,i dont hawe any criminal records in the U.K We Would be greateful if should be ther an amnesty for illegal immigrants

    28. consience — on 2nd May, 2008 at 11:10 am  

      My familys asylum case was refused 7 years ago.we could not be deported because the UN still says that our country isnt safe.we all have Alevels and excelled in our subjects.would you rather keep paying us £35 pounds a week in asda vouchers or allow us to work legally and pay taxes like normal able bodied adults.it makes no sense to me why the government would rather provide us with sub-standard housing and food vouchers using tax payers money for 7 years when we are all educated and can work. answer me this.would you live on £35 pounds a week in vouchers ,no transport cash to go to asda by bus ?or is that temptation for you to get a cleaning job somewhere to make ends meet?the truth is most of us are not criminals we are just honest people in desperate situations trying to survive.we do little jobs because we have to but sadly we break the law by doing so.

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