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WHY WE SUPPORT AMNESTY FOR UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS

 

By Keith Best

 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009.

 

An earned regularisation programme which has the support of the public and leading opinion formers is the only way to save the British Government's embarrassment at ignorance of the number of illegal workers in the UK as well as being a sensible solution to the problem of illegal working.

 

For many years we at Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) have advocated an earned regularisation programme for illegal workers in the UK as the only sensible way forward in order to overcome the uncertainty about irregular migration and prevent exploitation by unscrupulous employers who use illegal migrants to undercut wages. That is why we supported the recent Strangers into Citizen’s Rally through central London, in addition to the over 30,000 people who attended the various faith services throughout Britain.

 

Since that early support, there has been a mass movement among citizens’ groups, all the leading faiths and churches, leading politicians (including the adoption of a scheme by the Liberal Democrats as their party policy and the Conservative Mayor of London) and, according to opinion polls, the general public.

 

These are people who are already doing essential jobs, often lower skilled and lower paid but nevertheless important to keep the UK going. If they were to be removed it would cause chaos as those jobs are unlikely to be filled from the ranks of the unemployed. They are not in competition with existing British workers.

 

The Government has closed off all routes for lower skilled workers coming to the UK other than citizens of the European Economic Area. Yet the Eastern Europeans are no longer coming here in sufficient numbers and those that were here increasingly are going home. The Government is storing up a crisis whereby essential lower skilled work will not be done. This will have a serious impact on the economy at a time when already we are in recession.

 

This is not a policy which encourages illegal migration – it would apply only to those who have been in work with continuing prospects and they would be subject to limited leave to remain renewable only if they continue to be economically active.

 

This is not a general amnesty and should not be portrayed as such. It is a sensible solution to a cause of continuing embarrassment to the Government which does not know who are working in the UK. They ought to embrace it with alacrity. Even with better electronic border controls this will not be determined other than by such a course of action.

 

Keith Best is head of Immigration Advisory Service (IAS).

 

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