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UK Churches Back Amnesty for Illegal Migrants

May 8, 2009, 4:39 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point's UK Correspondent

Various churches in the United Kingdom are currently backing an intensive plea to 'grant amnesty to thousands of illegal migrants' in the country as well as urging citizens 'not to vent their anger' on such people in the times of recession or 'frustration with the economy' .

The church that has been very influential in such matters has never been shy to make such declarations in the public domain. Previously it had organised rallies and masses both in the church and other side and had issued remarks in that regard. 

However this time round the church's intervention came amidst a similar called officially made by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London in favour of undocumented migrants in the city.

Such arguments are currently based on the fear and feeling of anxiety that some elements in society might be using as pretext the economic downturn 'to vent their frustration against illegal migrants'.

During the past few days, the press have reported some allege gains made by the far right British National Party, a political party that make known its opposition to not only illegal migrants but also other legal migrant coming to the country from within the European Union. It is important to note that Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council give right of  "Citizenship of the European Union" citizens of the Union and their family members to move, work and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

Therefore the human rights groups and other significant and high ranking bodies and personalities strongly believe that the positive attitude and level minded approach by the vast majority of the British people must not be threaten with such fears.

 Harriet Harman the Deputy Leader of ruling Labour Party had told this correspondent that immigration laws must not scare migrants living in her constituency as she was available to intervene and help anyone who requires her assistance.

 The Catholic Church in both England and Wales said that such that such undocumented persons must not be a scapegoat to the current economic situation and demand 'an earned amnesty for thousands of illegal immigrants in the country'.

 The outspoken Rt Rev Patrick Lynch, auxiliary bishop of Southwark, said that there had been a 'long tradition of standing in solidarity with migrants in the United Kingdom which must be preserved'.

 Recently neighbouring France said they might block a 'smuggling route' towards the United Kingdom when the French Immigration Minister Eric Besson pledged to 'remove a camp where illegal migrants gather'.

 This route near the port of Calais according to some immigration officials is a route used by 'illegal migrants to try crossing to Britain'. Such evidence are always displayed in the British Media thus causing many people requesting the route to be blocked.

 But the illegal migrants are not alone, the church is supporting those category of people who are living in the country for some years now. The Reverend said such illegal migrants have 'worked here, their children have been born here and attend school here.they are part of our parishes and our society here and a way should be found so that you can remain here'.

 Despite contrary proposal by the government, the church suggest however that illegal immigrants would have to fulfil conditions including residence of at least four years. The Reverend indicated that a 'two-year pathway period, a clean criminal record, good English and character references' will be required.

 A similar argument but different in context was made by the Liberal Democrats who said they are willing to support such measures in favour of the illegal migrants.

 During his sermon, Bishop Lynch said there was a 'clear moral case that undocumented workers who have lived and worked in this country for five years or more should be given the opportunity to build a future in the United Kingdom and continue to contribute to British society'.

 Whether or not the demands by the church will be adhere to by the authorities is different matter, however when The Point contacted the Southwark Church in London that attracts a large congregation of migrants, this correspondent was told that the church has been 'instrumental in such demands over the years and hope that our request in favour of the illegal migrants will be considered'.

 Whatever the argument or debate, the government have intervened and allocated millions of pounds to job-centres around the country in order to help those who lost their job due to the economy dowturn to regain employment. Also the good news is that so far there is no evidence provided or even indication that any person or group of persons is formenting discord against a particular individual in such situation.