Boris Johnson to 'lead the debate'┬Ł on illegal immigrant amnesty in London
Monday, 24th November 2008
Writeen by Francesca Cookney
London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for an amnesty for illegal immigrants in the capital, saying that mass deportation was both unfeasible and unlikely.
Instead the 400,000 people estimated to be living illegally in the capital should be given an '╦ťearned amnesty' allowing them the opportunity to obtain legal residence and work permits. To organise the safe and efficient removal of thousands of people from British shores would be a vast operation and according to Johnson, it's 'just not going to happen'┬Ł.
His amnesty idea would allow individuals who have been here for five years or more to "show their commitment to this society and to this economy" to earn the right to stay. Johnson has no legal powers over British immigration policy, but has said that he wants to "lead the debate" and is even prepared to go up against those in his own party on the issue.
Both Labour and the Conservatives have opposed 'amnesty' proposals in the past, rejecting them as unworkable and expressing concern that such action would lead to increased illegal immigration, a fact that Johnson acknowledged. 'You don't want to create moral hazard, but I think you should have a system whereby people who have been here for a long time can earn a way out of the mess they're in,'┬Ł he said.
He will now put himself at the forefront of a study into the feasibility of the proposals and is expected to report on its findings in about two months' time.
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