Steve Hawkes, The Sun, July 25, 2019
Speaking in the Commons yesterday, the new PM said he had raised the idea of an amnesty when he served under Theresa May, “and it did not receive an overwhelming endorsement”.
He said the Windrush scandal had shown the difficulties that can be caused by a mass expulsion of people who “may have been living and working here for many, many years without being involved in any criminal activity at all”.
“We should look at it,” he said. “And the truth is the law already basically allows them an effective amnesty.”
He separately confirmed that Theresa May’s net migration target of 100,000 a year would go.
The PM’s official spokesman said he “wasn’t interested in a numbers game”.
WINDRUSH LINK ‘ABSURD’
Campaigners immediately warned an amnesty could fuel an explosion in migrants crossing the Channel from France in a desperate bid to reach the UK.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of the Migration Watch think tank, said: “The idea of an amnesty for illegal immigrants is a non-starter.
“Such a scheme will reward people with no right to be here, encourage future illegality and will be costly.
“It is absurd to link this with the Windrush debacle which was about a Home Office cock-up that led to people with every right to be in the UK being wrongly targeted.
“Windrushers were not illegal immigrants.”
Boris Johnson called for an “earned amnesty” for as many as 400,000 illegal immigrants when he was Mayor of London.
He said that anyone who had been living in the capital for more than five years could show their “commitment to this society” and be given the right to stay – so they could then pay taxes.
Announcing the controversial move in 2008, he agreed it would be better if illegal immigrants were “taken and sent back to their place of origin” but added “it is just not going to happen”.
But it never happened as it was beyond his powers as mayor.
Ministers were then accused of operating “in practice an amnesty” for illegal immigrants in 2011.
It emerged that 161,000 asylum seekers – part of a huge backlog of almost half a million cases discovered in Home Office files – had been allowed to stay in the UK because they had been here so long it would breach their right to a family life to remove them.