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Call for amnesty for UK illegal migrants

May 22, 2014, 10:04 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s UK correspondent

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has once again called on the UK government to grant amnesty to ‘illegal immigrants in the country’.

However the outspoken London mayor has made it clear that he is referring to ‘law-abiding’ illegal immigrants who have been in the UK for ‘ten years’.

It would be recalled that on March 2009, The Point reported similar sentiments from the Mayor who during the time urged then prime minister Gordon Brown, to grant amnesty to these categories of people taking into consideration amongst other issues the number of years they spent in the country.

Nevertheless, the mayor said that the beneficiaries should be ‘law-abiding foreigners’ who are willing to work and contribute to the national economy.

Despite some section of the press questioning the ‘motives’ of the mayor, he insisted that it was ‘sensible to grant amnesty for illegal immigrants because it would be morally right to do so.'

Speaking to this correspondent, an official at the mayor’s office, who spoke to The Point few years ago about similar remarks, said: ‘As I said before, the mayor’s statement is related to our strategy and programme…and that’s exactly what we believe.’

Currently, the London mayor’s argument is that the alternative to his demands are ‘to continue in a situation in which half a million people…most of them living in the City of London, not registered, with no papers, contributing to the London economy, making money, but not paying tax.’

Pro migrants and human rights groups have hailed such moves by the London mayor; however, political pundits are sceptical that it is be ‘very difficult if not rather impossible idea to sell’ to a Conservative led government.

But Johnson, who is a high-profile British politician and former influential newspaper editor who attended Eton College with prime minister David Cameron, is unwilling to give up his calls even though he personally acknowledged that the case for an amnesty can be a ‘hard political argument to win.’

It would be recalled that the Liberal Democrats, the coalition partner in the current government, had also campaigned for a similar amnesty.

During their congress in Brighton covered by The Point before the party joined power with the Conservatives, Nick Clegg, the current deputy prime minister expressed similar sentiments in favour of illegal immigrants.

So far it is a dream yet to be realised. There is no doubt that the debate over the issue will continue.

For instance, the only route available for such types for immigrants to make an application is by using the ‘FLR (FP)’ forms, which includes application for ‘Leave to Remain in the UK on the basis of Private life in the UK (a 10-year route).’

This correspondent, who is very familiar with the procedure, discovered that in order for an application to be considered under this route, the applicant amongst others must prove his or her ‘identify’ and ‘date of entry’ in the UK; also demonstrate or verify his or her previous location, as well as a ‘suitability requirement’ showing he or she has no criminal record or history.

An applicant is also required to enrol his or her biometric information details, and if an applicant ‘fail to enrol within 15 working days without a valid reason,’ the application ‘maybe rejected as invalid’.

However, in a country where members of both the ruling elites, politicians and opposition leaders are prepared to freely voice out their personal opinions on government policies and procedures without fear, such a debate is not uncommon here.

Also, this is alongside a free, effervescent and vibrant UK press which reports on such matters without fear of any form of reprisal. Thus all the options are currently on the table. Hence the debate continues.