Labour Party mayoral hopeful David Lammy has proposed an amnesty for the 300,000 illegal immigrants who live “in the shadows” in London. Lammy said if he is elected Mayor of London in 2016 he will “push from day one” for the amnesty.
The Evening Standard reports Lammy pointed to what he believes is the success of amnesties for illegal immigrants in other countries, such as Spain which has legalised 1.2 million people since the mid-80s. He said it is now time to bring them into mainstream London society so they could pay taxes and enjoy security in their lives.
Lammy, who is already the Labour MP for Tottenham, highlighted a GLA report that estimates up to £600 million in taxes a year could be taken from illegal immigrants already in London if they were brought into the ‘regular’ economy. However, those opposing his proposal believe such a ‘soft touch’ will increase the queues of migrants trying to get into the UK illegally.
Rejecting the idea a Downing Street spokesman said: “I do not think that is something that the Government is considering.”
Lammy said it does not make sense to press on with unreformed policies for illegal immigrants who have lived in the UK for five years or more and who already have jobs and homes to live in. He said:
“We face a choice. We can continue to stick our heads in the sand and pretend this isn’t a problem, carry on letting these people live in the shadows and use our services without contributing to them in tax.
“Or we can do the sensible thing and have an amnesty on all illegal immigrants in London who have been here for more than five years and are in work.”
Attempting to preempt his criticis he continued:
“It wouldn’t create new pressures on housing because these people are already living here. It wouldn’t mean fewer jobs because most of these people are already in work.
“It would just mean a much greater tax income, more transparency about who is living in our city, and a group of people who live here and work here being accepted as part of our city.”
Although the Conservative government is not backing the idea, members of have in the past spoken out in favour of an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Backing the idea of an amnesty for those who have been here 12 years, in 2013 the current Conservative mayor, Boris Johnson MP, said: “You’ve got people who are living here, ultimately you’ve got to reflect a reality. Otherwise they are not engaged in the economy, they are not being honest with the system, they are not paying their taxes, it is completely crazy.”
Johnson did, however, prefer that the illegal immigrants did not get in to begin with, saying: “But the key thing is to kick ‘em out – get them before they hit first base. Stop them coming in in such numbers and be much, much tougher in your general approach to borders.”