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Amnesty for illegal migrants in the UK vs. Tighter Control

Oct 10, 2008, 4:05 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, Our UK correspondent.

New important voices are now calling for the abolition of the scheme of what many call 'tougher but fairer immigration control'' by not only introducing some concessionary offers but also unveiling new identity cards to replace the old fashioned paper document providing a system more acceptable to the people. They call for amnesty to be granted to certain illegal immigrants in order to reduce cost and help such illegal immigrants to stay in the country on humanitarian grounds.

Despite the fact that the immigration issue has been over-shadowed by the economic topics including the credit crunch, some senior politicians are now calling for such amnesty deal in favour of illegal immigrants. Many experts are saying that this is not about opposing the idea of the government but simply appealing in favour of amnesty on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

However conditions are attached that such people must provide evidence that they lived in the country during the past seven years and this may simply allow them to register as residents, pay taxes and possibly may later earn citizenship.

Both the leader of Liberal Democrat and an official of the opposition conservatives have added their voices to the debate. They believe that it is the only way to recognise such individuals living in the country outside the ambit of the law.     

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he was not willing to share his personal information and details on the identity card data base and publicly rejected the project. In addition, his party's Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne said: ''No matter how fancy the design of ID cards is, they remain a grotesque intrusion on the liberty of the British people."

An official of the opposition Conservatives that has been supportive of strict immigration rules has indicated the idea of an amnesty. Anthony Browne policy director with the conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: ''The only humane and practical way to deal with Britain's illegally settled community is to offer immunity from deportation." 

Writing in The Independent, one of the most respectable newspapers in the country, Mr Browne Director of the Policy Exchange Think-Tank, argues that granting an amnesty would be "far fairer, humane, better for society and more economically efficient".

However Home Secretary Jacqui Smith recently reminded people that everyone can enjoy the benefits of the immigration rules including the identity card scheme as quickly as possible. According to the Home Secretary it will help protect against ''identity fraud, illegal working, organised crime and terrorism and crack down on those trying to abuse position of trust and will help people to prove they are who they are''. It is important to note that such issues have been worrying many during the past few years.

It is estimated that around 500,000 to nearly a million illegal immigrants are living in the country most of them reportedly concentrated in London and the south-east. Others argue that such illegality is not fair to law abiding individuals who respect all the rules.

Many of these illegal migrants from around the world lived in the United Kingdom for a very long time with their families and some experts suggested that deporting them would not only pain and suffering but might also break up families.

In fact those making their case for an amnesty noted that deporting people living here for too long would be a ''moral hazard'' and would be ''counterproductive''. On the other hand many others believe that as a point of principle, ''no law-breaking should be rewarded''. 

Experts in the area of immigration revealed that turning a blind eye to illegal immigration is ''not helpful'' and could even be worse, but at the same time making it impossible for illegal immigrants to regularise their status ''could equally be unhelpful''.

Migration-watch argues that an amnesty would be a ''clear admission of failure and an invitation to others to try their luck'' to illegally stay in the country. It is estimated that amnesty in Britain may cost the taxpayer at least £500million and combination with other factors hence the opposition for amnesty.

Downing Street has denied that any such plans of amnesty were on the way yet thereby throwing the issue in further doubt. Nonetheless while the likes of Migration-Watch are opposing any form of amnesty, the illegal migrants hope and pray that those supporting and lobbing in their favour are victorious. Or else they will continue to live in limbo-the debate continues.