Strangers into Citizens says earned amnesty would earn State billions
3rd February 2009: The UK Government has been asked to come up with a strategy to protect the undocumented immigrants, the Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg MP has said.
Speaking to mark the fifth anniversary of the Morecambe Bay tragedy where 23 undocumented Chinese Migrants were drowned while picking cockles, Mr. Clegg said “thousands of immigrants are still living and working in desperate and dangerous situations.”
Mr. Clegg said offering illegal immigrants a “route to earned citizenship” would take them “out of the hands of criminal gangs and bring them into civil society where they can pay taxes and contribute positively to society.”
The Liberal Democrat Leader accused the Government of “shamefully turning its back on the on the hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, without any employment rights or access to services from healthcare to banking, who make up Britain’s real underclass.”
According to Nick Broomfield, the award winning documentary and film maker who directed the 2006 film Ghosts about the Morecambe Bay tragedy, these immigrants are overworked with some suffering from body injuries but have no access to courts and police.
Mr Lin (name changed), a refused Chinese asylum seeker from the Fujian province in China, came to the UK 12 years ago, and while applying for refuge status received a work permit that allowed him to work legally as a kitchen cleaner and porter. Despite his legal status at that time he was obliged to work 12 hours a day seven days a week.
In 2004 he developed an illness that will prove terminal unless he receives a new liver. Having paid taxes and national insurance while working legally in the UK, because of his present status as an undocumented migrant he has not been put on the organ transplant waiting list. He receives no benefits and is supported by friends and the little informal work he can undertake while trying to manage his terminal condition.
Mr Lin said: “British people don’t realise that for us getting killed, hurt or ill because of our work is just an everyday part of our lives in this country. Because we have no rights, so we have no choice but to take on work that is very high risk. We work in poor conditions with low pay and long working hours. Inevitably we are exploited by employers and under the control of gang masters.”
Safeguard welfare of undocumented migrants, government told
The Strangers into Citizens Campaign has challenged the government to account for the lack of action in safeguarding the welfare of these migrants since the disaster.
The Strangers into Citizens campaign is calling for a one-off earned amnesty programme for long term undocumented migrants in the UK who can demonstrate a good standard of written and spoken English and are prepared to work and play an active part in community life.
In a letter to the Immigration Minister, Phil Woolas MP, Strangers into Citizens Campaign, says it is “very disappointing that the Government appears to have little intention at this time to address this matter by substantially re-examining policy around the welfare of undocumented migrants in the UK.”
The letter signed by Fr. James Conway, Cecilia Finn & Walter Semwayo says that granting earned amnesty “would also bring billions into the exchequer at a time of rising debt and as such help to bring the UK out of recession more quickly – something clearly in the interests of the whole county.”
The Campaign has advised the government to offer some of the jobs that Britain and EU citizens take for granted to these undocumented immigrants.
The Strangers into Citizens Campaign will be hosting a reception in Parliament on 9th February in support of undocumented migrants in the UK.
By Stephen Ogongo