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By Philippe Legrain 2 COMMENTS

I never thought I’d say this, but here goes: Boris Johnson is right.

Right to support an amnesty for the hundreds of thousand of illegal migrants in London and the rest of the UK. The reality is that most work hard, pay their taxes and contribute to Britain’s economy and society, but they are forced to live in the shadows, bereft of rights, vulnerable to exploitation, and living in perpetual fear of deportation. Many have been here over a decade; some have British-born children growing up here. Just imagine the consequences of trying to uproot them.

The government’s policy: talk tough, "crack down" on illegal immigrants, and deport those they can is a sham policy: it is economically, politically, logistically and humanely impossible for the police to round up half-a-million people and expel them from Britain. Since the government’s policy is a phoney policy, it causes suffering, fragments the economy and society, and yet fails to achieve its aim.

Far better, irrespective of what you think about immigrants in generally, to face up to reality and regularise their situation. It worked for the US in 1986. It worked for Spain in 2006. It’s likely to happen under an Obama presidency. And it will one day have to happen in Britain too once lily-livered short-sighted politicians finally realise that it is the only viable option. So why not do it now?

Posted 05 Dec 2008 in Blog
  1. John Bull says:

    Let’s reward people for breaking the law!
    What a fine upstanding moral principle – why not give burglars a £10 off voucher from Sainsbury’s after every conviction.
    Anyway, the disastrous Italian and Spanish experience has always been that ‘amnesties’ omly encourage further illegal immigration and lead to further ‘amnesties’.
    The Malaysians have got the right idea – beating Bengalis with bamboo canes until they go home.

  2. Rob Gillespie says:

    And Mr. Bull’s moral principle is a really good one: All laws are good and perfect, and we must never judge them. After all, our great and wonderful politicians passed the laws, and anything they do is always right (as long as I like it).
    But why talk about the Malaysians? That seems pretty mild. Or is he afraid people will get the right idea about him if he cites the real archetype of such cases; namely how the Nazis had the right idea – rounding up, robbing, beating, raping, starving, enslaving, the Jews until they went away? After all, they were violating the German laws against being Jewish, and any law must be obeyed and the violators punished in whatever inhuman manner (and the more inhuman the better) comes to hand!

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