725,000 illegal immigrants in Britain: New studyMarch 9th, 2009 - 5:30 pm ICT by IANS
London, March 9 (IANS) The number of illegal immigrants in Britain is around 725,000, says a new study commissioned by the Mayor of London who wants their status legalised in order to reap the benefit of taxes.
The study by the London School of Economics suggests that the number of illegal immigrants in Britain lies somewhere between 524,000 and 947,000, with a “midpoint” figure of 725,000, according to the BBC.
The last official estimate of illegal immigration put the figure at 430,000 in 2001.
However, London Mayor Boris Johnson has opposed calls for forcible repatriation saying making their status legal will enable Britain to benefit from the economic contribution of immigrants, who will then pay taxes.
“What I am trying to get people to recognise is that there are limits to what the policy to expulsions is able to achieve at the moment. Failing that, and it is failing, we need to think of a better alternative,” Johnson told the BBC.
“If people are going to be here and we’ve chronically failed to kick them out it’s morally right that they should contribute in their taxes to the rest of society.”
Johnson, who belongs to the opposition Conservative Party, said that illegal immigrants would have to meet “tough” criteria before being made legal. No one with a criminal record would be eligible, and applicants would have to show they were able to support themselves and their family, and to demonstrate a long-term commitment to British society.
Johnson’s call for an amnesty has the backing of trade unions and Church of England bishops, but it was rejected by immigration minister Phil Woolas.
“What unfortunately would happen is that people traffickers and others would see that as a pull factor to get people to the United Kingdom illegally and we would end up with a bigger problem not just for our society, but for the people themselves involved,” Woolas said.
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