Welcome to Great Britain – the softest touch in the world. That is the
message sent out by yesterday’s demonstration in Trafalgar Square. It
may have been well intentioned – but it was also deeply misguided.
immigration lobby, together with some church leaders are proposing that
illegal immigrants who have been here for four or more years should be
admitted to a " two year pathway" to full legal rights. This would
entitle them to access to the welfare state and citizenship eventually.
They could also bring over their families.
This is an amnesty in all but name.
are somewhere between 500,000 and a million illegal immigrants here.
Some arrived on the back of a truck, some overstayed their visas.
Others are failed asylum seekers the Government has failed to remove.
Many are being exploited by their employers. The Chinese cockle pickers
drowned in Morecambe Bay are the most obvious example.
hidden labour force holds down wages for all unskilled workers and
enables unscrupulous employers to undercut honest ones. It also damages
the reputation of legal immigrants.
An amnesty will be
pointless if those who are legalised are simply replaced. Some 70 per
cent of illegal immigrants are brought here by people-smugglers who
will be the first to spot a new market.
Others will be tempted
to overstay on visitor or student visas to work at less than the
minimum wage but for more than they could earn at home.
now migrants are lining up in Sangatte for an opportunity to get to
Britain. The prospect of an amnesty will attract even more. Italy and
Spain have each granted five or six amnesties in the last 20 years and
almost every time have faced even more applications.
amnesty would be expensive for the tax payer. The immigration lobby is
claiming a net gain to the Exchequer of between £500 million to £1
billion. This takes no account of the extra cost of adding 500,000
people to the welfare state.
More immediate is the effect on
housing. Once granted Leave to Remain, these migrants will become
entitled to social housing. As single people they would join a waiting
list. If their families arrived they would move up the priority list.
is already a sense of unfairness among the indigenous working class.
They feel that they have paid into the system for many years while new
arrivals immediately claim benefits. Indeed, 76 per cent of the public
oppose an amnesty. The Government ignores such strong feelings at its
So what is the alternative? First, we must restore
control of our borders, including checking people in and out by name.
This is now planned but it will be years before it is in place.
we need to bear down on employers of illegal workers. The Government
has spoken of heavy fines, the use of the Proceeds of Crime Act and
prison sentences for company directors.
However, in the last
five years there has been only a handful of successful prosecutions.
Even now there are only about a dozen officials devoted to this task.
third step is to permit illegal immigrants to leave Britain without
risk of arrest. Some have been imprisoned after being arrested for an
immigration offence on their way out.
A departure amnesty
would make sense, especially combined with tighter regulation of the
job market and restricting access to our education, health and welfare
The prospect of an amnesty will only retain the
illegals we have and attract more. It will shift the exploitation to
another group of victims and will perpetuate the undercutting of honest
employers and workers. In reality, it is foolishness. It would make a
bad situation worse.