According to a report published by Bloomberg, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering offering an amnesty to undocumented migrants in the UK.
Despite playing a pivotal role in the UK’s departure from the European Union- a process closely linked to public concern over the number of migrants entering the UK- Johnson is reportedly open to the idea of giving a reprieve to those with an irregular immigration status.
Speaking at a news conference, Johnson said:
“When people have been here for a very long time and haven’t fallen foul of the law, then it makes sense to try to regularise their status. This is pretty much what already happens under the existing rules.”
However, Johnson’s remarks suggest that he is willing to take this a step further, and broaden the rules so that they encompass migrants who do not have the correct paperwork.
Given that undocumented migrants have faced years of hostile rhetoric and punitive policy, the amnesty would form a substantial u-turn were it to come into effect.
The Hostile Environment was introduced in 2012 wih the intention of making life as difficult as possible for undocumented migrants, and created the culture of suspicion that led to the Windrush scandal. For decades, immigration has been a deeply controversial political issue in the UK, with the Home Office facing intense criticism for its treatment of overseas nationals.
Yet despite this, Johnson appears in favour of granting an amnesty to certain immigrants who have resided in the UK for a number of years. He has long been in favour of granting some form of amnesty.
Offshore asylum processing
The Prime Minister’s remarks regarding offering an amnesty to undocumented migrants come after his demonstration of support for Home Secretary Priti Patel’s proposals for asylum seekers to have their claims processed thousands of miles away from the UK.
According to Johnson, Patel’s Proposal is ‘the humane way to reduce the growing number of migrants making the perilous journey across the English Channel.’
The Prime Minister said:
“The objective is a humanitarian one, or the humane one, which is to stop the abuse by a bunch of traffickers and gangsters, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
“I will be clear, the objective here is to save lives, and avert human misery because people are crossing the Channel, who are being fooled, who are being conned by gangsters into paying huge sums of money and risking their lives. People have died making this crossing, and it is a deeply repugnant traffic that we need to stop.”
Following these comments, Johnson indicated that he would be open to granting an amnesty to a number of undocumented migrants in the UK, stating that his decision was contingent on whether or not they had broken the law.
Asylum plans criticised
The Home Secretary’s plans to send asylum seekers a considerable distance from the UK while their claims are being processed has been the subject of intense criticism. Gibraltar, one of the mooted locations for asylum seekers to be sent, has expressed fury at the idea that it could become a ‘dumping ground for deported migrants’.
Fabien Picardo, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, has written to the Home Secretary to say that he would not allow such a move.
Johnson’s comments on a potential amnesty occurred while he was delivering a briefing regarding concerns over a COVID-19 vaccination shortage.
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The notion of an amnesty for undocumented migrants appears at odds with successive government policies that have sought to reduce the number of migrants in the UK. [Image: FT]
The Prime Minister’s comments regarding a potential amnesty for undocumented migrants occurred at a briefing about a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines. [Image: Bloomberg]
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