London Mayor renews call for “earned amnesty” for illegal migrants

Johnson condemns the Government for failing to deal with immigration.

9th March 2009: The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has condemned the Government for failing to deal with immigration. The Mayor spoke after a new report found the estimated number of irregular migrants in the UK had risen by 295,000 in just six years.

The interim report by the LSE, ‘Economic impact on London and the UK of an earned regularisation of irregular migrants in the UK’ found there were approximately 725,000 irregular immigrants in the UK. Previous estimates in 2001 estimated there were 430,000 irregular migrants. The Mayor commissioned the report in November 2008 to explore the implications of an earned amnesty in the capital. The full report will be published in the spring.

Mr. Johnson said, "This report has identified a huge failure of Government immigration policy with an estimated rise in irregular immigrants in the UK of 295,000 to 725,000 in just six years despite a series of Government initiatives to supposedly deal with this issue. It would take the authorities over 60 years to remove the current number of irregular migrants on current trends.

“This is a huge issue for the capital. The report clearly shows London is disproportionately affected with more irregular migrants in London than anywhere else in the UK. I believe it is perverse, particularly given the current economic climate that illegal immigrants can use public services such as the NHS and schools but are actually prevented from paying the taxes that fund these services.”

Mr. Johnson said “a twin track approach” was needed to tackle the problem. “Firstly we need far tougher border controls to control the flow of people into our country. Secondly we need a frank debate about what to do with the half a million in the capital who are not able to join the economy legally. I believe we should carefully consider the merits of an earned amnesty for long-term migrants to maximise the economic potential of these people so they can pay their way.

“I do not want to be the Mayor of two categories of people in our great city, one group who live normally and another who live in the shadows unable to contribute fully to rest of society."

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