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Has the time come for an immigration amnesty?

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Raphael Rowe | 12:31 UK time, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

I'm looking at the highly charged debate of an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been living and working in this country for a very long time.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is leading the debate towards the idea of an earned amnesty for "irregular immigrants" who've been living in this country for a number of years.

This programme has taken me to meet 'illegals' living among us and in the shadows of our society. Having never reported a story on immigration I was open minded about what I would learn and what I would be able to share with you.

The first piece of information I really wanted to find out was, how serious a problem the Home Office are dealing with, how many illegal immigrants are there? I was able to put this to the Immigration Minister Phil Woolas. All I can say is that what he said surprised me, especially against the backdrop of the recent outcry about British jobs for British workers.

Some of the other stuff I discovered really did amaze me. I'm not giving anything away by telling you ahead of broadcast (scheduled for 9th March) that I could not believe illegal immigrants vote. Yes I said vote. Seems cheeky but they really consider themselves as part of our societies having dodged capture and removal for many years.

And that's likely to continue, if nothing else because of the sheer scale of the problem.

The National Audit Office estimate that the average cost of an enforced return is £11,000. A 2005 Home Office report stated that there were approximately 430,000 illegal immigrants in the UK, which means it would cost £4.7 billion to remove them.

Then of course there's the question of time. Last month the Home Office published figures which showed that for 2008 the total number of enforced removals and notified departures for asylum and non asylum cases was 21,110. So it would take 20 years to clear the 430,000 total.

This is one of the reasons some people are saying we need to try something else with those already here and tighten up the entry so no-one else can get in. Interesting debate.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    What the gov does not understand about amnesty issue is that what these people want is the right to go and come. This is what Spain, Ireland, Holland and some other EU countries have come to understand.
    Spain in particular have granted more than most yet the country is not as populated as the UK. By granting amnesty, people get the chance to leave when they so wish but by remaining adamant, you turn the UK into a fortress and as such, those who are in can not go, thus creating the over loading of the island

  • Comment number 3.

    An amnesty is really the only way forward, but it can only work if the borders were literally 'closed' before the amnesty was declared.

    Just think about the numbers of people who would redouble their efforts to get to Britain in time to be naturalised.

  • Comment number 4.

    I understood this was about illegal immigrants. An amnesty for illegal immigrants is not acceptable for several reasons

    - It encourages exploitation by undeground organisisations and the abuse of those who are caught up in it.

    - It undercuts wages and undermines honest businesses as they can't complete with those businesses that use illegal labour.

    - It makes, even worse, the housing shortage.

    - It encourages the movement of innocent young children on their own.

    If an amnesty if given it will encourage this abuse and injustice to continue.

  • Comment number 5.

    No amnesty for illegal immigrants ! We should not be allowing any immigrants anyway, as we cannot cope with the ones we already have. All immigration is doing is overburdening our welfare and health services and taking jobs from people who were born here. I am anything but racist, but you cannot fit a quart into a pint pot.

  • Comment number 6.

    It is illogical to want to repatriate people who have roots families and are holding down jobs in the UK. An amnesty is a good first step. We also need to look at ways of encouraging more temporary migrant workers into the UK.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think amnesty is not welcoming, but we should give a path to citizenship for them. And it is not only for illegals who have been living and working in this country for a very long time,also it is important for those are not having CRIMINAL RECORDS.

  • Comment number 8.

    Illegals are illegal, do we want to grant amnesty to people who are here criminally?

  • Comment number 9.

    As a legal immigrant who came to Britain, worked for years, paid all my taxes and then became a proud UK citizen, let me say that granting amnesty to illegals will be a very dangerous path to follow. Such thing can work only if UK truly seals its borders to prevent any further illegal entry but this is impossible. In such case granting amnesty will simply reenforce the 'soft touch' reputation of UK and attract more illegals. The UK should make it clear that people are welcome if they follow rules but no rule breaking will be tolerated, eventhough this may prove costly for the taxpayer in short term. Also it is not just housing or social burden or NHS issue, illegals can also threaten security. I would definitely vote a firm NO to any such amnesty proposal.

  • Comment number 10.

    illegal(undocumented) is different with criminal.

  • Comment number 11.

    it's time to fix immigration system because when the econs recovers, there will be more illegal immigrants come in again.

  • Comment number 12.

    There was an immigration amnesty in the 1970's. It achieved nothing except that the immigration service was forced to spend a huge amount of money trying to knock back false claims from people who hadnt actually been here that long.
    If you are happy to see the current UKBA waste its time and resources then OK.
    There are already effective amnesties for people who have been here a long time it is just that UKBA calls them concessions, (politically more acceptable).

  • Comment number 13.

    We shouldn't grant any kind of amnesty to illegal immigrants whatsoever. We should tell them that no matter how long they have been here and no matter what roots they have put done, once they are identified they will be returned to their country or origin. Whether they've been here for 5 mins, 5 hrs, 5 months, 5 years or 50 years, they will be repatriated and forfeit their worldly belongings. We should make it clear the only way we will accept them into our society is by seeking legal status through the correct channels.

  • Comment number 14.


    I think this is the best debate for the United Kingdom at this time of Economic crisis. Permit me to ask if the Government has the statistics of how many Brits are resident in Spain or Australia? These group of people at some point too migrated to those countries like many other immigrants in the uk today.

    It is unfortunate that the Government of Gordon Brown has failed to realise that the so called property boom which left the economy in the state it is today was ignited by the influx of immigrants into the uk which brought about an increase in the Demand for rented accomodation and led to an increase in the buying of property by lots of individuals as "buy to let". Let us remember that lost of brits sold their properties to these group of hard working immigrants who could afford to buy a property and then fled from the UK to destinations such as Spain, New Zealand and Australia to buy cheaper accomodation.

    The recent tightening of the borders have since caused the problem we are having today as lots of immigrants have since been arrested and detained by the UK border and immigration agency /voluntarily returned back to their home countries as illegal existence in the UK is no longer attractive. This has led to lots and lots of houses being vacant today in the uk and the property market crashing, lets all remember that the average Brit would rather register to be on the Council waiting list for a council house than to pay rent. It is about time that UK declares an immigration Amnesty to those already inside to start contributing to the Economy as the borders are already tight.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    i strongly agree that there should be an amnesty,but i am not sure that this is the right climate for such a move . If you made people legal then you could accurately count the amount of people living in Briton for security reasons,it would also increase tax revenues for the government coffers.

  • Comment number 17.

    #14 - you make some decent points, but really, you are being a little over-simplistic in (a) crediting the entire 'property boom' to immigrants and (b) blaming the current economic crisis and property crash on the tightening of the borders!

    In fact, whilst it might have had a very small effect - I'm pretty sure there are countless other, more significant, contributing factors, too.....

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes Amnesty is essential. Because by the time we will remove the estimated number, and with massive spending to do so, we will find that we will need more money to remove a future backlog that will being built. Why’s that we end up with an efficient system is that we can only afford to pay what we can and this means the current immigration system has to deal with both past cases and the up coming cases, even when we split them the money to spend for the resources will more or less be the same.

    We need therefore to be honest that the immigration services need a different approach. It is not fit for purpose these words are not from me; we cannot consider that all illegal immigrants in the UK are really to remain illegal. The definition of an illegal immigrant is that of a person who has not been given permission to enter the country legally and if we say they are all illegal this means the system dealing with this legality has been fit for purpose which is not the case. Because we call asylum seekers, illegal entry, as if there is a legal way for asylum seeker to seek an entry from his home country. I understand that an absence of a legal document from us makes him illegal but where the system to treat his case does not work properly, we should retain our judgement that he deserves a bad treatment.

    An amnesty is a solution in this case, where we all can agree that our immigration system has not worked properly over the past few years. For example many cases in the backlog were for example settled in courts but unfortunately the secretary of state has only decided to keep them in the backlog while independent judges in high courts acted in the favour of the applicant. I can’t believe we are civilised people and we are not able to protect people who are running from countries where things they claiming to fear are actually happening and not only we have the evidence but sometimes we are ourselves involved in their reason for fleeing, we are fighting in Iraq but we cannot give food or work to the people who are fleeing our fights and still call ourselves civilised. We are condemning torture but the people who flee torture from Africa a continent in trouble. Yes we cannot welcome them all but do we really have to detain them again or refuse them food?

    Yes I totally agree that an amnesty will allow many of these people to move to other countries as the only thing that they never wish was to return to their countries, either because of the problems they were facing there, whether economic or persecution, or because of the time they have lived outside their countries. Some for example knows Britain better than some of us English, Scottish, welsh, Irish…etc.

    I am one of the people who believe an amnesty is a solution if we want our immigration system to improve. But if however we continue to stick in ideas such, amnesty means pressure in housing, yes we need that pressure to help the housing business which is at its lowest. It does not mean this will attract more people, because it will only apply to those who have been here for at least 3 years if asylum and 5 years if other, the criteria can always be another debate. The purpose of this amnesty should be to release the immigration systems and move on to new policies. The mix-up will never work. By the way, we need cheap labor to stop companies from going elsewhere. And our housing market need a bit of presure. our economy works where there is a higher demand whether we like it or not, these are obvious solutions to stop our economy from shrinking.

  • Comment number 19.

    Illegal immigrants have demonstrated that they do not respect English law by entering the UK illegally. Will these people ignore other laws such as those concerning drug dealing, money laundering, cashpoint crime, identity theft, forced marriage, mortgage fraud, credit card cloning, people trafficking and driving without insurance?

    An amnesty would be a disaster and would lead to a massive increase in votes for the BNP. More illegal immigrants would follow in the hope that they would be allowed to stay in future amnesty arrangements.

    British people are angry and have lost patience with this government. An amnesty would simply make people even more angry and frustrated.

  • Comment number 20.

    Dear all
    As a member of the shadow community in the UK, I probably know a thing or two about how it feels like living in a limbo.
    I’m not going to make it a personal plea, but the general perception the public have about us that we are just a punch of poor hard-hearted individuals who sneaked into the country is just simplistic, the reality is far more complex than that.
    The establishment is to blame -to an extent- for allowing such a thing to spread out of hand.
    In his book Bad Men Clive Stafford Smith says “the dynamics of the politics of hatred are simple, it’s much easier for a politician to convince the electorate to hate a particular group of people and blame them for society’s ills, than it is to resolve the complex issues that are really the cause of the problems”.
    We had a similar debate two years ago, end of 2006 early 2007 on Paul Mason blog, for better or worse we are still here and yes still in the shadow.
    I know an amnesty is not going to happen, neither here nor anywhere else, because leaders of the free world don’t lead anymore they just follow, it’s the nasty tabloids and focus groups are in charge.
    What I don’t understand is the Tory position on this, I mean from a policy makers point of view if I was a government in waiting I wouldn’t want to have to deal with such a heritage.
    I volunteered in an event in London last Saturday and had the privilege of chatting to a young politician, a labour candidate, I was absolutely gobsmacked to see an intelligent and articulate young man talking of hope and inspiration for all rather than fear and hatred, it made me feel that yes another world is possible.
    Finally there’s a security element to the issue, both state security as well as human security, it would be very interesting to see what kind of debate will take place once such an element is been added to the equation.
    We make it in life because of smartness and luck, once we run out of ideas and fortune, that when we say it is all over.
    God bless you all




  • Comment number 21.

    I believe that illegal immigrants should be given permission to stay,but there should be a few conditions these being; 1. Those people who want to work and pay taxes. 2.Those who do not have a criminal record 3.Those that have been living here for 4 or more years. If anyone fulfils the above criteria then those people should be given permission to stay.I believe that everyone deserves the chance to work hard and prove themselves,and as long as they are good citizens it can only do the country and economy good. Without permission to come and go as they please, and without a passport, these people are stuck with no real future,and a lot of these people are good very hard working people,who are more than willing to pay taxes and bring improvements to the economy.Without permission to stay, these people are not able to get married,they cant go to college to learn new skill,they cant get a driving license or buy a house, they can't pay taxes..........how can any of this be good for our country?? Everyone is quick to say that these are worng and criminal, but compare them to bankers who have ruined our economy,left thousands of people robbed of their pension/ life saving. Not everyone is same, there are lots of people who are citizens of this country who don't want to work hard,and are happy to claim benefits.............yet nothing can be done about this.Not everyone is the same and there are a lot of hard working genuinely good people out there that would benefit our nation if they were given citizenship. the same thing has been seen in America,where Mexicans are crossing the border and working illegaly,but the country sees the benefit of giving these people citizenship,and we should do the same.

  • Comment number 22.

    My parents and all my siblings are British, but l am not, l try to regularize my stay in the UK having been here for almost five years but the home office turn me down and l was ask to keep report at one of the immigration centres every monday's which l keep doing.
    At the centres you see a long queue wanting to enter to be checked then go back home- the home office officer only check the paper given to me and then say thank you.
    what is the reasons for all this things, is the government not using money wrongly paying those workers sitting down there and just saying thank you every day.
    Those staff can be sent to go and work at all the boarders to prevent illegal coming into the UK .

    Granting Amnesty will stop all those things and then British families will also unite with families and feel secured

    Also illegals working in the UK have made a better contribution to the UK economy for such a long year without taking a penny of what they are taxed
    they pay tax and national insurance and if l may ask where does all that contribution goes(suspense account) and who benefit from the money they give but can not have access to it.

  • Comment number 23.

    If the Amnesty is the following:

    "Anybody currently residing in the UK illegally will be offered the chance to leave the country without it affecting future visa applications."

    Then yes, by all means call an amnesty. However, if this is about handing out free passports to people who have managed to live here illegally then no definitely not.

    Would we give Driving Licenses out to someone who has managed to drive without one for 5 years? Or a Pilot? Or give a job to someone who has tricked his way into a School with fake Diplomas, but not been sacked for 5 years? Or allow someone to carry on being a doctor, if he's been practicing unlicensed for 5 years but hasn't killed anyone? Of course not. That would be outrageous, and would undermine people's confidence in the appropriate Government bodies.

    We already have a system that allows people to claim UK citizenship if it can be proved that the person has been here a long time - it's 14 years at the moment. What do the supporters wish that to be reduced to? Five years? Does anybody know how long it takes someone to gain Citizenship in the UK LEGALLY?

    Let me tell you of a friend of mine (the money he had to pay is in brackets). His (now) wife came to the UK on holiday, with a six month visitor Visa (£50) afterwards she had to leave the country, which she did. Then when they planned to get married, they applied for a FLR (known as a Fiancé) visa (£595) which lasted for six months, after which they were married and then applied for a second two year FLR (£595) - during her time in the UK, the Government changed the rules ONE MONTH before her FLR visa expired, to force her to take English lessons, She didn't have time to complete the course (£250) so she had to apply for another FLR (£595). Now she has to get an ILR (£795) and apply for her Citizenship (£795) - total cost: 5 years and £3600!!! And that's to do it legally.

    This cost does not include her husbands requirement to forgo his single person's allowance on Council Tax payments as his wife had no recourse to public funds which has been about £250 per annum.

    While she has been here she has had FOUR jobs at the same time paying tax, national insurance and working above minimum wage.

    Now she understands that if she had come on the Visit Visa, not left the UK and stopped in her husband's house four five years with a reduced Council Tax - she would now be eligibal for a FREE PASSPORT.

    Before we even scratch the surface of the behavior of someone here legally whose next visa can be turned down if they are arrested for anything illegal against someone who is not in the system and is only waiting for the five year 'Amnesty Period' to kick in (and how their legal family members act to protect them; like not informing the Council or Claiming Single Persons discounts on Council Tax Payments) and without adding in the tax payments of someone who will be working (as they cannot claim benefit) 430,000 NOT paying on average of £1,500 to the Home Office is £654,000,000 in lost revenue.

    Because let's be clear, I would guess that most overstayers are people NOT sneaking into lorries in France, but those who have obtained a short-term visa to visit friends, or families, study at University or come on holiday and then have not returned to their country of origin. So most overstayers are actually in the system. They're not invisibles that have clambered up the beaches in South Devon - their names are there for the Home Office to see - they applied for a Visa of some kind and they are still listed as being here.

    We suspect that the advice given out to those wanting to stop here is to get here in the first place. By land, or sea, fake passports or short term visa GET HERE. Because once you are here they will never kick you out. And that's what I want to see more of. Not fortress Britain - let people come on work permits or Visitor Visa - just make sure they leave afterwards. It's a real sad state when you walk down the street and think to yourself "Should that person be in this country" or get angry when you see someone at the Housing Associations because you secretly suspect that they're not really supposed to be here. That's because we have no confidence in the Immigration Service - we think they lie about how many people are here or they offer secret Amnesties to keep the illegal population down.

    The Amnesty should be "We will allow you to leave without prejudice to future applications until 2011". After that you will be removed, because we have to sort this mess out before millions turn up for the Olympic Games the following year.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think its time for amnesty, think about people who have been here long time working, paying tax, NI contribution and without any criminal record. some has even had children, attending British school with British culture, how do you want to justify removing these set of people. Lets pardon those who are already in the system, and DOUBLE tighten our borders. Alternatively we could rename our border No mercy and No go area. Thanks

  • Comment number 25.

    I THINK SOME PEOPLE DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY THIS DEBATE.

    THIS DEBATE HAS FOR A PURPOSE TO FIND OUT WHETHER AMNESTY TO SOME IMMIGRANTS IS A SOLUTION TO RESOLVE THE CURRENT CHAOS IN OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM, SO THAT IT BECOMES AGAIN "FIT FOR PURPOSE".

    This is not a debate of a choice between illegal immigrants who are willing to pay taxes or comply with any of our laws, and British citizens who think this country will compete against the biggest world economies without immigrants but with more citizens now unwilling to pay taxes or prepared to accept low paid jobs to keep companies around.

    But this is a debate about whether we should campaign to save humans as well as we campaign to save animals in our country. If the answer is yes of course we should also campaign for humans. Therefore, supporting amnesty is a way of campaign for a group of human in danger. Illegal immigrants are first of all humans, yes they have broke the law which is an offence but the punishment should not be inhumane. If you understand, I say again IF YOU UNDERSTAND, why the human rights say "Every one has the right to freedom ….”, "Every one has the right to work ….”, "Every one has the right to life, liberty, security ….”, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” And if you see what the lives of these people have become, YOU WILL SAY YES AN AMNESTY IS APPROPRIATE.

    Can you for example believe that certain asylum seekers are reporting, for more than 5 years, to immigration centres or police, every week, every two weeks, every months etc, waiting for consideration of their cases, and may still continue to wait and report indefinitely if nothing is done. You will, not only think it is not right, where the system to deal with these cases does not function properly, but also think that surely if a person comply with such condition, he or she probably would comply to the law of legal entry if he or she has had a degree of choice, from the country of origin.

  • Comment number 26.

    what these undocumented illegals all want basically is just the right to come and go. The govt regularising their stay will only discover more exodus of this so called one-time illegals. I really doubt if any of them wish to live and die in the UK

  • Comment number 27.

    The Amnesty is good thing for people who are in the darkness.

    People juge another so roughly and they forget that, when We died you dont carry your passport with you.

    According to latest statistic, more immigrants are living the country because the recession.

    I know one thing, when people have got genuine paper they do not to intend to stay in one place.
    So, they go and come back.
    as you can see with the polish migrants, they are going back to their country, because the know any time if they want; they can come back.
    If you dont regularise people situation, they stay in the darkness because they know if they leave; they have chance to come back.

    The recession is not migrants fault, is the fault of the big fat bankers who are awarded big bonuses and pension even if they fail.
    The migrants are on the minimum wages(£5.73).




  • Comment number 28.

    Hi dear I am working here in London near the 10 yrs paying Tex never ever took any benifi I do vote I love this Country ,I love British sports special football I can speek English , I proud to be Londoner or British Should I get permanet stay so I can have my own business or own home etc

  • Comment number 29.

    Two-thirds of the British people are in favour of an earned regularisation programme. The Immigration Minister has no evidence to support his contention that an amnesty would act as a pull factor - the Government has had two amnesties in the past for asylum seekers and the numbers have gone down not up! Bringing illegal workers into legality would increase tax returns to the Government, reduce exploitation by unscrupulous employers and mean that the Border Agency knows where people are by issuing them with identity cards - it is a win, win situation which only stubborn Ministers cannot fathom out. It is something that the largest national charity giving advice to immigrants and asylum seekers, the Immigration Advisory Service, has advocated for many years.

  • Comment number 30.

    If I break the law I get punished, if I try and stay in the countries most of the Illegal imigrants come from I get imprisoned or deported, this illegal imigrants have broken the law, therefore their assets should go towards paying for their deportation. Keep the issue simple.

  • Comment number 31.

    So much for a debate BBC. I don't see any comments published since 08.05 including my comment which I am sure doesn't breach your moderation rules.

  • Comment number 32.

    A clear case of the politicians again ignoring what the vast majority of Briton want, an end to mass immigration into the UK. It is patent to everyone that an amnesty would only encourage further immigration into the UK, as previous amnesties in the UK & Europe demonstrate.

    The government have consistently over exaggerated the economic benefits of immigration to the UK whilst brushing under the carpet the high social costs. Mass immigration has had profoundly negative effects on all the social services particularly on schools and housing.

    But the debate has been closed down by politicians of all colours and the government has passed legislation which have created a situation were it is well nigh impossible to criticise the behaviour of some illegal immigrant groups let alone deport them. The BBC should accept as well that they have been part of this pro-multiculturalist agenda.

  • Comment number 33.

    Typical BBC! What a nonsense.

    If you can find these criminals why don't our forces of law and order?

    Government is spineless and lacks the will.

    Never ever ever amnesty.
    Most important of all is the need not to send the slightest hint that illegal migrants are welcome, and the idea they only have to sneak in and a few years later they will have bypassed our feeble defences.

    The messages they need to take back where they came from is the UK is harsh and unwelcoming to criminals illegally stealing into the country.

    Unfortunately no doubt the typical BBC angle on this being promoted will go out world wide and give the impression there may be an amnesty, drawing more hoards in.

    Why is the programme investigation not into the failure to find and lock up and deport these immigrants? Why is it not a priority police task?

  • Comment number 34.


    I think we need to re-educate members of this debate of the various classes of immigrants in the UK:

    First read my thread in #14

    1. Documented People: who came into the UK on visit visas, student visas, work permit visas and came in on various visas issued in their countries of origin but have since decided to stay behind and not return to their countries of birth for various reasons.

    2. Asylum seekers: who fall into categories of poeple who where smuggled into the country, came in with forged documents or via boarders of neigbhouring countries to the UK.

    3. People who have been helped by their family members in the uk by sending them thier British passports as entry document into the uk as a strong resemblance exist.

    Now back to the discussion ...thread numbers 32 & 33 please can you answer these questions?

    Where do you think the money Government spends on Benefits come from?
    Ans: from taxes collected from hard working immigrants in the country as most have formed NI numbers they have given them selves and have been using for years.

    Why are most properties in the UK vacant and why has the property market crashed?
    Ans: Most immigrants are now beginning to leave the UK voluntrarily as the UK government has failed to recognise their contribution to the economy in terms of taxes, rent etc and can no longer to exist in the underground as illegal working is no longer attractive.

    Why do we have lots of properties in the market today for sale?
    Ans: Cause lots of British citizens too have taken to Emigration to destinations such as Spain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Note that citizens of all the above listed countries are not complaining that the British are coming to take over their resources or mess up their countries such as we see in your comments above.

    Immigrants are a group of hard working human beings just like any other British born citizens. Permit me to say the removal of all these immigrants will bring about a collapse of the British Economy. Infact granting of an amnesty will see a rise in Economic activities in the UK as most of these people will not just sit in the UK working alone but would bring about a rise in the international trade figures of the UK as majority will buy and take goods from the UK to their home countries for sale and bring the money back into the UK Economy to re-invest.

    I really don't understand why these very little population of british citizens complain about immigrants when indeed majority of you are descendants of immigrants. My
    advise to the UK Government is this 'the UK borders are at the moment tight and secure when compares to 3 yrs ago so why don't you grant an amnesty to immigrants that have been in the UK for the last 4-5yrs working and contributing to the economy and make some good income for the British Economy'

  • Comment number 35.

    As a so called 'illegal immigrant' its see people perception of such persons. I was brought into the uk as a minor legally, I am now an adult with 2 degrees (paid international fees even though i didnt have a student visa) from outstanding top 5 universities. After effectively 10years in the uk I dont have a right to anything. I have an application which has been pending in the home office for over 2 years now. I know people who have had thier applications pending for 5years.
    As you can imagine I am all in favour of amnesty but I am also in favour of a system that doesnt punish so called illegal immigrants forever.If they are oing to reject peoples application then they should do so but to sit on application for years on end is horrendous to say the least. My guardians made a mistake no doubt but should I be punished forever because of it?

  • Comment number 36.

    THERE WILL ALWAYS BE PEOPLE FOR AN AMNESTY OR AGAINST IT.

    THIS DEBATE HAS BEEN ON AND ON, FOR MANY YEARS NOW, AND, NO AMNESTY, HAS BEEN THE ANSWER. AND THE GOVERNMENT HAS NOT TAKEN THIS MOVE, AT LEAST FROM OUR FORMER PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR.

    UNFORTUNATELY WE ARE STILL WHERE WE WERE AND EVEN WORSE WE ARE CREATING A HUGE BACKLOG IN OUR SYSTEM WHICH WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE, AS ANY NEW SYTEM TO TACKLE THE CURRENT OR FUTURE IMMIGRATION ISSUES, HAS TO DEAL WITH THE CURRENT ILLEGAL NUMBERS.

    WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW IS OUR RESOURCES ARE STRETCHED AND WE WITH THE ECONOMY LOOMING, WE WILL FIND OURSELVES WITH A PROBLEM FAR MOR BIGGER THAN WHAT WE HAVE NOW.

    AN AMNESTY WILL ONLY MEANS WE WANT TO SOLVE THIS PEOBLEM BEFORE IT BECOMES UNSOLVABLE.
    WE NEED TO CONCENTRATE ALL OUR AVAILABLE RESOURCES TO CONTROL WHO IS COMING IN, INSTEAD OF THE OPPOSITE OR PAY IMMIGRATION STAFF TO TREAT CASES OF PEOPLE WHO ARE LIVING HERE FOR A LONG TIME. THAT IS WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING AND HAS NOT WORKED.

    THEREFOR THIS IS THE BEST TIME FOR AN AMNESTY.

    OR WE WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH A BIGGER PROBLEM WHEN WE WILL NOT HAVE THE MONEY TO DO SO. I APPRECIATE IF YOU HAVE UNDERSTOOD.

  • Comment number 37.

    Boris Johnson thinks it's morally right to sanction illegal immigration! Wouldn't another amnesty just legitimise entering and working here fraudulently? Encouraging yet more illegal immigrants to try it, since it seems to work. If the government were serious about cohesion, public opinion or the pressure on our resources and infrastructure they would never consider this.
    I will also add, my children have a far greater struggle than my generation to find work and affordable housing and my grandchild has no hope. The future looks very, very bleak indeed. The public have a right to object and deserve to be listened too.

  • Comment number 38.

    34. At 2:58pm on 09 Mar 2009, immigrantboard

    Where do you think the money Government spends on Benefits come from?
    All taxpayers, most by far not immigrants.

    Why are most properties in the UK vacant and why has the property market crashed?
    Because they are grossly overpriced and fantastically are now dropping like a stone. Much of the blame for terrible high house prices is as you admit at the door of immigrants adding to demand. Causing the concreting over of my green land to accommodate incomers.

    Why do we have lots of properties in the market today for sale?
    We don't, market activity is very low.
    Your answer to your own question is nonsense. However ALL migration is utterly wrong in this age. Even our rich old people running away.

    Let me make it quite clear I am only interested in right and wrong not personal wealth, I would welcome a poorer UK economy minus all immigrants, For a nation at peace with itself.

    It is telling that your argument for immigrants is all about their greed and money.


    Never ever ever ever forgive or forget, make life impossible for these criminals so they want to go home.

  • Comment number 39.

    I Watched about Amnesty on BBC1 09/03/09 and i think is a good time to think about changing.. This is the time!

  • Comment number 40.

    l came to this country to study when l was 19 years old but after 2 years my uncle who was paying for my international tuition fee lost his business and so l had to look for a new sponsor in order to get my visa to be renewed. When l submitted to the Home Office my change of sponsor and course the Home Office rejected my renewal of my visa, to which l made 3 appeals which all resulted in letters telling me that l had 10 days to leave the country or otherwise face deportation. l ignored the letters and just continued living my life, l have never had any benefits, l rent, don't use the NHS, l vote, l pay tax and l work. At the moment l am working and going to university full-time, for which l don't get a grant or any other benefits because l am scared and didn't want to bring attention to myself.

    All l want after 10 years of staying here illegally is a little stamp in my passport giving me the right to work legally.

  • Comment number 41.

    lagbajaobirin l hear you

  • Comment number 42.

    I really think people should be aware that asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are becoming criminal in this country it is because of the home office policies. How do you exept a person leaving in uk for 3 to 15 years without a status or leave to remain, this is unbelievaible for country like UK.
    It show that the UK does not respect it membership of UNCHR
    Only option the UK have for now to clear their so-call backlock by giving an Amnesty to all asylum seekers and illegal immigrant who have been here in UK for 6 month and up. Otherwise these peoples will still going to commit crime by working illegally just to get cash to survive.
    The time has came to for the goverment to make an amnesty to all illegal immigrant

  • Comment number 43.

    i done my school, college and about to pass my graduation as a qualified engineer from a top university of the country. I came when i was a minor, and its been more then 7 years. So when i become a qualified professional very soon, what do i do? clean streets? after all that education over here?So please give us a chance,atleast for ppl who came here when they were child and living for 7 yr or more...educated.

  • Comment number 44.

    What is disgusting is how it appears some with no right to be here seem to have taken places in our education system. If that is happening that is one more thing that needs ending. Just like the illegals may not work, nor should their children be getting anything.

    While it may be unfortunate for those dragged here by adults, it is no excuse to let them gain by illegal acts by their parents. Grown, or not, parents and children should return to their own lands, not stay in ours.

    If they will not leave then every avenue of living here has to be closed off to them. Chase down any who employ them at all. So it is not worth the risk. Those found should be held in refugee style tented detention camps, as are seen as acceptable run by aid agencies round the world, minimal aid like rations, until they prefer to go home. With nothing extra laid on for them other than an exit route home.

    It is not the Home Office or other policies that make them 'illegals', they are responsible for not returning home, not us or our government.


  • Comment number 45.

    I think the title of the programme should have been " Is it time for an earned regularisation for illegal immigrants" rather than " is it time for an amnesty for illegal immigrants" . The slightest mention of the word amnesty seems to create a massive furore for no reasons. Instead of leading a campaign to assasinate the character of "illegal immigrants" wouldn't we be better off tracking the origins of the problem.

    I am sure among this whole so called illegal immigrant community there are some very intelligent individuals who can be an asset to our society rather than a burden which reminds me of someone I know who has a masters in law but due to medical reasons he overstayed his visa and is now an illegal.

    Britain would be better off having someone like this regularised who will contribute to the economy rather than someone claiming benefits as a job.

    In brief , to be politically correct let us say " earned regularisation for people who are in breach of immigration rules" rather than a blanket amnesty. We need to have a concession to avoid a human tragedy to happen while so many of those people are living in fear to the point of having a mental breakdown. This is called human suffering.



    To Raphael Rowe , a suggestion for your next programme on illegal immigration , why not focus on how many smart people are there who are illegal and their potential contribution to the economy.

  • Comment number 46.

    45. At 01:59am on 10 Mar 2009, seanr80

    Oh dear that is just the sort of thing that is utterly wrong. There is no way to pick and choose the 'nice' criminals. The ones you or anyone likes, the ones that work hard are still criminals just like the lazy.

    No one is saying they are not just any average group of humans good and bad. The entire point is NONE of them, not ONE should be here at all. There is no half way house, no compromise with these criminals.

    They can not ever 'earn' the right out of still committing a crime. ( You can not 'earn' nationality, it is a ancestral right). By being here they are actively being criminal. You can not use mealy mouthed words like 'regularise' as a PR way round wanting to do the wrong thing.

    None at all are 'suffering', obviously or they would go home!

  • Comment number 47.

    May I suggest Raphael Rowe attends elocution lessons. His spoken voice is ghastly and he could do with a haircut while he's about it. Lord Reith must be spinning in his grave. regarding the debate, of course, if you want to increase the crime rate by all means have an amnesty.

  • Comment number 48.

    this comment is in response to James StGeorge:
    It is sad see that you believe that because someone else is born on the otherside of the shore they and their children have no right to a better life. If i had not paid international fees for 4 years into the british system many of the lecturers ould not have been paid and the government would have to have subsidized the education of a lot more student.
    Besides do we say that the mentally disabled live abominable lives because they were born with some defect? Absolutely everyone has the right to the best life they can forge out for themselves as long as they are not impinging on anyoneleses. One may argue quite rightly that some illegal immigrants do lean on the system but the vast majority contribute enormously to the British economy. Whod do you think works in the old peoples home? cleans after your dirt? cooks your meals in the takeaways? the question is would you do it? better still would your grandchildren want such jobs?
    One should be shy of being self righteous if they have never been in the position of the less fortunate...

  • Comment number 49.

    Many of these illegal immigrants are very happy to work hard and pay their way. I admire these people it would be nice to see these people, who are keen to better themselves and pay their way in our society have the opportunity to become legal migrant workers.

    The people that should be expelled from the UK are those able-bodied migrant AND native people who are NOT prepared to 'pay their way' and just want to sponge from our over-generous welfare state.

  • Comment number 50.

    43. At 00:49am on 10 Mar 2009, nicemrunlucky wrote:
    i done my school, college and about to pass my graduation as a qualified engineer from a top university of the country.

    Off subject for a moment.

    Reading your post above, if you're about to graduate from one of our top universities it makes me very glad I have a mere HND Electronic Engineering.

  • Comment number 51.

    48. At 12:55pm on 10 Mar 2009, lagbajaobirin

    This is typical of the problem. No one has any place going to someone else's nation and taking their 'better life' there. Their responsibility is not to abandon their own people and land, but to build that up whether that is the best for themselves personally or not. It is these completely and utterly selfish attitudes of migrants that are the cause of the problem. I have no right at all to sneak off to someone else's nation and set up a life there just because I would have a better life. That is just not on. Who do these migrants think they are? So much more important than their fellows at home, so superior they can just go and take for themselves.


    There is no problem with people visiting, or studying, even working on a time limited no rights of remaining work permit. Which goes both ways to here or from here. Always on the principal of a guest, who leaves as expected.

    If there end up jobs that are not done that is our problem. WE can chose to let others come in on work permits. There is Never a case for letting any such worker ever ever remain or bring in family.

    If I had gained an education, even paying for it, in some other nation then I would expect to come home immediately afterwards, to make my life in my land. There is no possibility it would be reasonable to start demanding I am granted the right to stay, live and work there, merely as it is where I received an education! It would be completely unreasonable and wrong.

    Every single migrant is impinging on others, every time they take and make a life in other's lands.

  • Comment number 52.

    It is time the UK government look at the benefit it can gain from giving amnesty to the thousands of undocumented people in the UK and put politics aside.
    Most undocumented people in the UK have British families and it will be very wrong to seperate them.
    l am 37 yrs old having been in the UK for five years and an Overstayed. Both parents are British and five siblings are also British.
    l try to regularize my stay but the home office dismiss my application and ask me to go home, but never thinking about my parents and the tax they have paid to UK for almost 40 years. Where do they wan't me to go? my families have contributed so much that the system is failing them and rather allowing criminal right to stay
    Why do they have that word compassionate in their rules and yet they don't give sympathy to people like me.

    Amnesty will erase all this problems and the so call reporting every week will stop and the officer at the centres can be used to do better things.

  • Comment number 53.

    Some contributors keep banging about criminality, I just want them to explain to us the difference between a murderer who kills an innocent human being in cold bold and a twelve year old kid who steals a chocolate bar from a corner shop, some would say they both deserve a life sentence!!
    Raphael, there is something as important to this debate as anything else. There is a consensus amongst all parties that the system hasn’t work efficiently. However every commentator, politician and even ordinary people somehow think that inefficiency can only mean letting people in not ruining people’s life.
    I would have loved to see something about the chaos in the immigration service, especially in the period between 1996 and 2003, guys you have no idea how many passport application were lost, an extension of student visa could take up to two years, with unbelievable disregard to people’s life. Those like myself who came from totalitarian states losing a travel document means never obtaining one again, somehow no one seems to be welling to take responsibility for that. If it wasn’t for that many of us would have not be here.

  • Comment number 54.

    @JamesStGeorge:

    I utterly disagree with you, and I think you should show some respect for PEOPLE, yes they are people; you should not be disgusted even though reading your comments make me a little bit sick to be honest.
    People don’t choose where to be born otherwise they would choose Switzerland (that my little joke) and children should be in school we don’t want them to end up like you.
    Is very offensive to refer to workers as criminals, thinks are not just black and white.. life has different nuances, but the people that don’t know many immigrants tend to put them all on the same basket, there are many different types of undocumented immigrants and reasons why they are here.
    It is not mature and very unintelligent to believe that if someone are born somewhere they have to live and die there.
    It is not easy to leave family, friends behind and start a new life somewhere were everything is different: the language, people, weather, culture… it is a huge struggle, but they do that because most of them are desperate; they are human being just trying to survive...
    …even though it is a struggle they know if they go back life will be much worse, and some of them might even die.
    Do you see the difference? You want to have your very comfortable life and they just want to be able to survive with dignity.
    You don’t have to be very smart to understand those arguments; it only requires people to become conscientious. But ignoring them only makes you an ignorant.

    I think that seanr80 have hit the nail right on the head, “illegal” and “amnesty” can be a bit strong and hard to be accepted.. and seanr80 also very rightly mentioned about the “very intelligent individuals” that also unfortunately don’t have regularized status were not much exploited and the stereotype of immigrants doing the jobs that nobody want to do should be extinct.
    I also like very much the smart comment that Miss_Controversial made: “The people that should be expelled from the UK are those able-bodied migrant AND native people who are NOT prepared to 'pay their way' and just want to sponge from our over-generous welfare state.”

    People should be able to earn regularization so there will be no more exploitation and pain for the people that already came here running away from painful lives.

    PS: I came to this country on a student visa, after 3 years being here as student I applied for a full time work permit which was refused, I tried everything I could to be here “legally” and but my efforts were in vain.
    I have 12 years experience in IT, I never taken 1 sick day off on the places I worked and now its been almost 6 years I’ve been here only took 1 month holiday and I never could come back to see my family.. on the meantime, my father died, uncle died, and I could never say the last good bye.
    I like very much the English culture and lifestyle… I blend in very well and never try to impose my culture as I think is a great experience to live a different life and culture here, my knowledge of the English language and history is better than many native people and if one day I ever manage to regularize my situation here I would be more then prepare to sign whatever paper saying that I do not want your council houses or benefits.

  • Comment number 55.

    54. At 4:36pm on 15 Mar 2009, WeAreOneB

    You just exemplify the selfishness of all migrants.
    YOU want, you want. You like. All you say is about money. Never right and wrong. Nationality is not ever, or should never be a choice. It is an ancestral birthright only. You do not get choice in all things, you do not chose your parents, your physical or mental capabilities. Or era of time. Or birthright nationality.

    Perhaps symbolic of the wider selfish greedy societies the west now has though. That incomers think it acceptable to take a better life for themselves and value everything as their self improvement, betterment. Me, me, me.

    Working or not illegal immigrants are by definition as illegal, criminals, they are breaking the law. I do not care what individual ones are like. I understand they will be the full range of human variation, it has nothing to do with anything. You can not pick and chose good and bad criminals, ones you like, ones that work hard.

    I will die a pauper and starving before I leave My land, My nation. Probable death is no reason to run away, home is home. I would never sneak out for a better income or to save my life, it is wrong.

    Nations are not companies, you can not just join one you like the terms and conditions of.

  • Comment number 56.

    @James

    Is easy to say I rather starve on my own land when you are born in UK... maybe according to your statements if the people that had their homes destroyed by the tsunami saw the waves coming.. and getting closer.. they should all stay on their homes; like you say: "death is no reason to run away, home is home"
    I think people should have to answer some common sense questions before being allowed to post comments here.
    There is no bad or good, but ignorance and conscience.

  • Comment number 57.

    56. At 2:35pm on 29 Mar 2009, WeAreOneB


    That is laughable. We are talking of deliberately migrating across nations, not dodging a tsunami for an hour, by running up the road.

  • Comment number 58.

    You cannot dodge political persecution, a war or hunger by running up the road for 1 hour.... neither dodge a tsunami, what is really laughable is to believe that everyone should have their foots set on concrete and that they have to endure whatever problems they have only because they were unfortunate enough to be born on a place that they are not happy with.
    If people are not happy with the place they are, they should be able to leave... I would encourage you to do that, I am sure that wont be a loss to UK maybe some third world country could use your "humanitarian" skills and personality to achieve great improvements.
    Now, seriously.. what goes around comes around don't expect enforce capitalism, globalization, invade countries, make wars and have no collateral effects, that is just not realistic.

    As I said before, you don't have to be very smart to understand those arguments but you seem to ignore information and want to impose your "beliefs" as something "right".

    I rest my case, and.. you didn't even got one yet.

  • Comment number 59.

    58. At 10:59pm on 30 Mar 2009, WeAreOneB

    LOL

    Your scenario a of a tsunami. It is no excuse to migrate.

    You now attempt to mix in asylum seeking from persecution to the subject here, greedy migrants out for 'self betterment'.

    Absolutely not, mere unhappiness, or anything else, is any excuse to move nations. It is immoral and wrong. Your own nation is any sort of a mess, you stay and sort it out, not run away. After all the vast, vast, majority don't migrate. Only the selfish migrate. This is no longer the age of new empty lands, ALL migration is wrong now.

    This specific blog is about illegal migrants though, by definition criminals, they have no excuse, no rights, no sympathy, no amnesty.


    They have no argument, no case, nor do you. Freedom of movement is not a right. Does not exist. Nations have borders, they should defend them at all costs. Invasions come in varying forms. They all need treating alike.

  • Comment number 60.


    since you don't have the slightest idea of what asylum seeker, human being, morality means.. and talk about immigrants as if you knew them all.

    Time and time again I see that the old phrase "Empty vessels make the most noise" is true.

    I wasn't even going to comment on this blog the only reason I did is because I got very impressed with your "twisted ideas"(to say the least).... but.. I'm off... wasted too much time.

    PS: I am staying right here.. and I will always encourage friends from other countries to stay here.

  • Comment number 61.

    Asylum seekers are irrelevant to this issue of the greedy moving nation to better themselves. Particularly the criminal ones doing so illegally.

    People do not matter at all. It is impossible to deal on a 'be nice' basis. Undoubtedly for every migrant it would be easy to find a dozen more 'deserving' than the one that selfishly moved nation.

    It must be very sad to be so selfish as to leave where you belong, no roots, no morals. Just self.


    My nation, my land, my people first, the rest nowhere. Must be a vast vacant hole at the core in any who think differently. No reason to live.

  • Comment number 62.

    Update.
    Every illegal and asylum seeker costs the nation £1million
    'It means the country would face an eventual bill of up to £1 trillion if it had an amnesty.'
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/5268674/Illegal-immigrants-would-cost-1m-each-if-granted-amnesty.html
    Makes the removal costs look like chicken feed!
    Amnesty is an insult to the nation. All migration is utterly wrong in this age.

  • Comment number 63.

    James have a look at this link http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article6268093.ece
    you reminded me of someone who read the roof collapsed beneath their feet.
    Feeling strongly about an issue is not an excuse to abandon our common sense.
    Quoting migrationwatch!!?? good luck with that. Though Im sure Sir Andrew Green a former ambassador to Sudia Arabia a medieval regime can tell us a useful thing or two about the westen-saudi relationship, I will definitely take him seriously, will he ever do that?


  • Comment number 64.

    People shouldn't be just granted access to the country after living hear for a certain period of time this would do nothing besides agravate the issue even more:

    - Illegal Immigrants would all immediately increase there efforts to stay here and move here on the understanding after X amount of time they could stay anyway.

    - The UK is small and doesn't need to become anymore crowded.

    - It would encourage people to employ illegal immigrants, driving down wages etc.

    That said I see nothing wrong with providing people visas and an easier route into the country permenantly.

 

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