Monday, 9 March 2009

BBC Interview - Breakfast News

Hi all,

as written earlier, Austen was interviewed this morning for BBC Breakfast. We went on air at 6.40am and had a brief debate over irregular migration and immigrant amnesties against Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch.

There are new figures on irregular migration - an exclusive bit of info passed on to BBC by the team at LSE undertaking research on request of London Mayor Boris Johnson: 725,000 people, up from the estimated 500,000 of the figures published in 2005.

We have welcomed these figures in our
press release.

We were welcomed at the BBC and led into the so-called Green Room, with refreshments and makeup studio - Sir Andrew joined us briefly before the debate went on air and I could tell that Austen and him were old opponents who treated each other with respect.

When the debate went live, things got a bit passionate, as Sir Andrew Green opened with the statement: "An amnesty is absolutely NOT the way to go".

He stated the usual arguments - that levels of migration to this country are too high, that we should not reward illegal behaviour, etc.

When the interviewer asked him what he thought of people who were already here and had been here for a long time, Sir Andrew did not budge. His tactic for dealing with "illegal" migration was to offer free tickets to return home (something the
International Organisation for Migration already does) or, if people were reluctant to leave, have the UKBA chase everyone down.

We stated our support for irregular migrants who have been here for a long time, and we argued that regularisations have happened before in places like Spain. There would be enormous contributions to the Exchequer.

One argument from Sir Andrew's intervention is altogether familiar with detractors of immigration, but it never fails to astonish me for its bigotry: Sir Andrew mentioned that "illegal" immigrants have been undercutting wages for British people for many years and so it would be disastrous to have an amnesty especially when there few jobs to go around.

It always amazes me when I hear this argument, the lack of of concern for people being exploited or for employers who prey on someone's vulnerable immigration status to gain benefit.

If irregular migrants take less money, it's because they are driven into that situation by extreme necessity and because of the lack of regulation in the jobs they have been relegated to agriculture, cleaning, caring and hospitality.

Shouldn't the concern be over employers who repeatedly exploit the system and fail to provide even basic protection to their employees?

What would you do...

  • if your employer refuses to pay you a national minimum wage?
  • if you could not report your employer because of fear of being deported?
  • if the alternative to working were to not be able to provide for your family?

You would probably try and take whatever options were available to you.

That's why many migrants, even if they had skilled jobs back home, take on menial jobs with meagre salaries - and in the case of asylum seekers, they are not even allowed to work.

Behind statistics are always stories. Individuals have shared them with us. Please log on to our website and read through some examples. You will see that the stereotype associated with an "illegal" migrant is not the reality.


  1. Dear Strangers-into-Citizens Campaign team,

    Thank you for your good job. Did you follow up the recent debate at House of Lords on the new 'Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill'?

    I saw it live on the BBC Parliament TV channel and also managed to read it in the Parliament website.

    This (below) is an interesting question to the Minister about the effects of the new Bill to undocumented migrants. Should we believe in the Minister's answer?!

    Lord Griffiths of Burry Port:
    My Lords, does the Minister recognise the commitment to taking a look at how this Bill will impact on those undocumented people who are already here, especially in terms of earning citizenship, probationary citizenship and all the rest of it?

    Lord West of Spithead (Minister):
    My Lords, my noble friend raises a good and important point, which I mentioned to the Whip on the Front Bench. I will make a commitment to do that.

    Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

    Date: February 11, 2009


  2. Perhaps its now the time for the government to realise that keeping or rather punishing irregulars for such a long time is enough. Irregular migrants have paid for the so called "Illegality" by their lives,by waiting ever so long in limbo,in destitution etc etc. Is it not enough yet? what kind of crime(if any in this case) deserve such a long sentence?? The government seems not to listen to the public when it comes to "University Top Up Fees" and "War in Iraq" but is very keen to hear what public says on the issue of amnesty!!
    Thank you.