Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has appealed for long-term immigrants should be given British citizenship.
Speaking on the BBC Sunday programme yesterday, Cardinal Cormac said there was a responsibility for the country to welcome immigrants to "appreciate the gifts that they bring and also make sure that in some way they are supported. A lot of the people who come are quite vulnerable and can easily be threatened and exploited. But I think also there is a point here about some migrants who come here and are here for years and they are undocumented." He added: "After a certain time, a way should be given for them to receive citizenship here and so get the benefits of that."
The Cardinal;s comments came after the Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced that advisers were studying the potential benefits of an amnesty for the UK's estimated 700,000 illegal immigrants. He said that allowing long-term illegal immigrants to earn the right to stay in Britain would see "hugely increased" tax revenues.
However, immigration minister Phil Woolas has said any amnesty could lead to more people being exploited by traffickers. And Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said an amnesty would cost the taxpayer at least £500 million in extra benefit payments.