Exclusive: Ken calls for illegal migrant amnesty
- 14 Jun 06, 10:00 PM
London's mayor Ken Livingstone has tonight become the most senior Labour politician to call for an amnesty for Britain's estimated 1/2 million illegal migrants. He issued this statement to Newsnight:
"It was clear after the 1997 election that the disastrous state of the immigration service inherited from the previous government was leading to massive problems in the immigration system including an appalling backlog in dealing with cases. Having spent nine years trying to improve this failing system, and considering the overwhelmingly positive contribution of immigration to the economy and cultural life of the UK, there is now a compelling case for starting from scratch, and clearing all pending cases with an amnesty. Of course the government would first have to decide how it wanted to run the system from the point at which a new regime started and there would be nothing to be gained from giving clear commitments until the government was ready to act."
The move comes after Labour immigration minister Liam Byrne refused to rule out an amnesty. I understand community groups representing London's vast army of migrant cleaners and security guards are in discussion with churches with a view to a hearts and minds campaign among politicians to present this as the only practical option versus the cost of finding and deporting half a million people (ie nearly one in every hundred of the UK population).