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Londons konservative borgermester Boris Johnson vurderer å innvilge amnesti for de antatt 400.000 illegale innvandrerne som befinner seg i London, med begrunnelsen at det praktisk sett ikke lar seg gjøre å deportere alle. Samlet regner man med at rundt 700.000 innvandrere oppholder seg ulovlig i Storbritannia.

Både Labour-regjeringen og den konservative opposisjonen er motstandere av amnesti, og innvandringsminister Phil Woolas kaller Johnsons idè naiv.

Borgermesteren hevder at et amnesti vil øke byens skatteinntekter betraktelig, men organisasjonen Migrationwatch imøtegår Johnsons påstand og sier at et slikt amnesti vil komme til å koste britiske skattebetalere opp til 4 millarder pund i året (cirka 40 millarder kroner):

ALLOWING every illegal immigrant to stay in the UK would end up costing the British taxpayer up to £4billion a year, it is claimed today.

An amnesty for the estimated 700,000 illegal migrants already in the country would cost up to £2billion in the first year as they qualified for benefits.

And that figure would probably double after their children or family members joined them, says pressure group Migrationwatch UK.

Migrationwatch viser til meningsmålinger der 70 prosent av befolkningen på landsbasis er i mot å innvilge amnesti, mens 10 prosent er for. I London er det er det noen færre – 64 prosent – som er motsetter seg et eventuelt amnesti.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said it would be «counter-productive» by encouraging more migrants to enter the country illegally.

But Mr Johnson claims an amnesty would hugely boost tax revenues.

Today Migrationwatch publishes its calculations of how much a move would cost once all benefits paid to newly-legal migrants had been taken into account. The group challenges Home Office claims over the economic benefit of immigration.

Last night Migrationwatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: «Clearly the British public can see that to reward people with a meal ticket for life for breaking our laws is an absurd proposition. It will encourage others to come and take their place in the hope of a further amnesty.

Green sier at det er nettopp dette som har skjedd i Italia og Spania, som har innvilget hhv. 5 og 6 amnestier for illegale innvandrere i løpet av de siste 20 årene. Han legger til at det er latterlig å hevde at et amnesti vil øke skatteinntekter når man tar velferdsordninger og offentlige tjenester med i betraktningen.

«So proponents of an amnesty are left only with their claim to be advancing the cause of social justice.

«However, the real victims are British workers whose wages are held down or perhaps their job opportunities taken by people who came or remained here illegally of their own volition.»

He added: «Competition for work by illegal immigrants should be reduced, not encouraged. The Government and Opposition are right to oppose this ill-considered scheme.»

Migrationwatch calculated that a family with two children would cost the taxpayer £250 a week or £13,000 a year, in terms of how much more they got from the state than they paid in income tax if they lived outside London.

Immigration Minister Mr Woolas said this week that immigrants should serve a five-year period of «probationary citizenship» before earning the right to benefits.

Daily Express: IMMIGRANT AMNESTY BILL TO COST £4BILLION