UK minister rules out illegal immigration amnesty

The UK's Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, has said that the UK has no intention of granting an amnesty to illegal immigrants currently in the country. She says that this would 'send out the wrong message'.

A recent study by the London School of Economics suggested that there are about 1,000,000 people living illegally in the UK though, of course, no one is really sure. They are made up of those who entered the country illegally, often by boat or through the Channel Tunnel, and those who entered the country legally with a temporary visa but failed to leave when it expired.

Mrs May told The House 'I think if you have an amnesty, what you are likely to end up with is not a situation which helps with the control of immigration but a situation where more people try to come to the UK illegally because the message you're giving is that at some stage that's going to be ok, and that's the problem with the amnesty'.

Ethnic minority Britons disapprove of illegal immigration – Theresa May

Mrs May, interviewed in The House magazine, the in-house magazine of the House of Commons which is edited by MPs, aid that many ethnic minority communities in the UK felt strongly that illegal immigration was wrong and illegal immigrants should, therefore, be expelled. She said 'people will be keen to see that we are ensuring that people here illegally are being removed'.

Mrs May said that many members of ethnic minority communities in the UK were vehemently opposed to illegal immigration because they are concerned that people in the majority community will get the wrong impression about all immigration legal and illegal. Many ethnic minorities in the UK are British citizens. Others are on visas such as the Tier 2 skilled worker visa, Tier 4 student visa, marriage visa, etc.

She said 'There will be many communities in the UK who themselves feel very clearly that illegal immigration is wrong, particularly if you are thinking of somebody who has come here legally but feels that people get the wrong message about immigration because if illegal immigration. Then, obviously, I think you want to make sure the government is dealing with it'.

Government policy not written in stone

Mrs May added that the government constantly reviewed its policies which are not written in stone.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has floated the idea of an amnesty before. Speaking on London Radio station LBC on 2nd July 2013, he said that there is already an effective amnesty so it might be better to make it official and allow those who are currently here illegally to work and pay taxes.

He added that there is an effective amnesty for most illegal immigrants anyway because the resources are not put into finding them and they will attain legal status by being in the country after 12 years anyway because of human rights legislation.

Johnson wrong

In fact, Mr Johnson was not quite right about this. The rule has now been changed and it is now likely that people will need to be in the country illegally for far longer, perhaps as long as 20 years, before they will be allowed to stay.

Mr Johnson admitted that when he had last raised this suggestion in 2010, it had not been popular with the leaders of the UK's political parties who had 'turned their machine guns on me'.

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