Exactly a year has passed since Boris Johnson openly declared from the pages of this paper his view on the role of migrants in the capital and defended his proposal of an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“It is vital that everyone has access to opportunities to live, work and contribute to the success of our great city” claimed the mayor, who was convinced about the need to address the problems created by the existence of a category of people who live in the shadows and are unable to contribute fully to rest of society.
Placing himself against his own political party, the mayor of London considers earned citizenship for existing irregular migrants a practical measure that makes economic sense too, since it might “greatly increase tax revenues” as well as regularising the positions of people who were suffering from lack of access to healthcare and whose situations made them “much more likely to be driven into criminality”.
The study from the London School of Economics, commissioned last year by Mr Johnson “to investigate the potential benefits of an amnesty for long-term unregistered migrants”, said the move would not lead to a rise in migration but would raise spending on welfare services and housing as well as add up to £3bn a year to the country’s economy.
“This new report has introduced some long-overdue facts, hard evidence and academic rigour into a debate which has far too often been dominated by myth, anecdote and hearsay “, commented the mayor in June 2009.
“The study also demolishes the argument that an amnesty would inevitably lead to increased migration to the UK and identifies effective border controls as the vital factor in controlling and deterring illegal immigration.”
A year has passed from these statements and in between a new Government set into power. Although the Programme for Government by the Lib-Con coalition is still a work in progress, it seems quite likely at the moment that the Liberal Democrats have to abandon commitment regarding an earned amnesty for illegal immigrants.
What role will Boris Johnson play in this match? Will he stick with his intentions and apply pressure on his own party?
During the General Election campaign, the mayor didn’t hide his point of view concerning an amnesty, evidently contradicting Conservative policy. On April 2010 while campaigning in Tower Hamlets with Tory candidate Tim Archer, they both said to a BBC reporter they agreed on need for an amnesty.
This probably suggests that within Tory party conditions might exist to open a dialogue on this issue. If we think that, since 1998, 111,265 illegal entrants have been deported at the cost to the UK of £11,000 per person, then it might be worth considering the positive impact that such a move could have on the country’s society and economy.
Read the article on The New Londoners