Camden Labour Party has given their backing to a campaign that calls for a earned amnesty for some long term undocumented migrants in the UK. The proposal, originally suggested by the Citizens Organising Foundation – a community organising charity based in London – has received support from across the major political parties, with politicians, academics, religious leaders and the public all giving their support.
Somers Town Labour Councillor, Roger Robinson, who proposed the motion backing the campaign which is on the agenda for full Council vote on Monday the 19th of January said:
“With the economy entering into tougher times, its all the more important that we challenge the BNP and other racist groups who are trying to raise tensions within our communities in Camden. This doesn’t mean we should avoid the difficult debates, it makes it all the more important that we pull together to discuss without raising fears or spreading lies what is right for Camden, the economy and hard working families.”
The Strangers into Citizens proposal calls on the Government to introduced a earned amnesty for undocumented migrants who have been living in the UK for four or more years, that are willing to work and pay taxes for a two year probation period, have a good standard of written and spoken English, can provide references before they are approved into the scheme from employers and community organisations like a church or charity and have not been in trouble with the police. Despite much hostile media coverage on immigration nearly 60% back the Camden Labour group’s stance.
Bloomsbury Labour Councillor, Penny Abraham, who is seconding the Strangers into Citizens motion said:
“We would encourage all Camden councillors to back the campaign and back the motion when it comes to the Camden Council on Monday. The Liberal Democrats as a national party backed the idea back in 2007, while the Conservative mayor of London is one of the campaigns most vocal supporters, the Greens in the London Assembly introduced their own motion last year that was passed overwhelmingly. Lets work together to show that politics in Camden is working in all our best interest.”
Many undocumented migrants are former asylum seekers from countries such as Zimbabwe and Darfur in Sudan who cannot return to their own countries but are not allowed to work and receive little or no support. Many have lived in the UK for many years and are keen to play a full as part as possible in their local communities, but feel frustrated that they are not allowed to support themselves and pay taxes to contribute to public services.
A Home Office agency has estimated that as much as £3.3 billion is being lost out in unpaid taxes and National Insurance because undocumented migrants are not allowed to work legally – enough to build 132 schools or 13 hospitals. Many undocumented migrants are also treated appallingly, too afraid to approach the police or the authorities if they are assaulted or burgled and exploited by unscrupulous employers that force them to work long hours doing demining, dangerous and back-breaking jobs that don’t even pay the minimum wage.