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Saturday, December 10, 2016
Westminster vigil planned as MPs debate amnesty for migrants
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¬†The Immigration Minister, Liam Byrne, will face questions tomorrow (Wednesday) morning from MPs calling for the regularisation of long-term migrants. The "Regularisation of migrant workers" adjournment debate will be led by Jon Cruddas MP, a leading candidate for the deputy Labour leadership. Cruddas will be commending the 'Strangers into Citizens' campaign proposal that migrants who have put down roots in the UK should be given legal recognition. The proposal has so far attracted the support of 80 MPS who have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 1371) and three out of six of the deputy Labour leadership candidates: Alan Johnson, Jon Cruddas and Harriet Harman. Campaign supporters will gather in Parliament Square from 8am to hold a vigil in support of the proposal, which will be debated at 9.30am. Campaigners estimate that some 300,000-500,000 people would benefit from the proposal ≠ a combination of refused asylum-seekers and visa overstayers who are working and paying taxes. Regularisations have been carried out many times in EU countries since the 1980s: in 2005, Spain naturalised 700,000 migrant workers. The campaign by the Citizen Organising Foundation (London Citizens) has attracted high-profile supporters including Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Ken Livingstone, and Baroness Shirley Williams, and a diverse cross-section of trade union, business and NGO support. An ORB survey in April showed popular support for the idea: 67% of British people said those who have been here for more than four years and who work should be allowed to stay. Since organising a rally of thousands in Trafalgar Square on 7 May the campaign "is growing faster than its sponsors dared hope", according to The Observer on 3 June. The Independent and The Tablet have commended the proposal in editorials, as have Madeleine Bunting and Polly Toynbee in Guardian comment articles. Strangers into Citizens proposes that migrants who have been in the UK for four years or more should be allowed a two-year work permit. At the end of the two years, subject to employer references, criminal checks and an English test, they would be given leave to remain. The campaign describes this as a "path to citizenship for long-term migrants". Critics such as MigrationWatch fear the measure would have a magnetic effect on further illegal immigration. But campaigners point to the strict criteria and the evidence from Spain that regularisation combined with border enforcement is the only realistic, humanitarian long-term response to illegal immigration.
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