Magazine article The Spectator

Immigrants Just Want Work

Magazine article The Spectator

Immigrants Just Want Work

Article excerpt

Sir: Frank Field MP (Letters, 24 March) thinks that giving a one-off amnesty to longterm undocumented migrants (that is, asylum-seekers who have waited for years in limbo on Home Office decisions; visa-overstayers who have secure jobs and pay taxes) would 'send out a trumpet call to people to come here illegally'. I don't pretend it would stop illegal immigration, but it wouldn't have the green-light effect he fears: people don't cross the world in search of visas but for work; where they find it (as in the UK) they often end up staying.

The US and many European countries have all introduced pathways to citizenship for long-term migrants because there are huge benefits, both for the host country and for migrants, of recognising realities. In each case they have not had a discernible greenlight effect; immigrants have continued to arrive in greater numbers -- as they have to the UK, which has not had an amnesty -- because the economies need them. …

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