Migrationwatch briefing - Clegg struggles on immigration policy

April 25, 2010

Interviewed by Andrew Marr on BBC 1 on Sunday morning, Nick Clegg was clearly struggling to defend Lib Dem immigration policy.

Commenting, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman, MigrationwatchUK, said: “It is shocking that the leader of one of the main political parties should be so poorly informed about an issue of enormous concern to the public. As a result Lib Dem policies on immigration can only be described as laughable.”

1 Amnesty
Clegg claimed that his amnesty for those illegals who had been here ten years would be a “one off” measure but;

- what about the following year when those who have been here nine years would qualify…..and so on? To “deal with” the present crop of illegals the amnesty would have to last for ten years, otherwise it would only deal with a relatively small proportion of the one million or more now here.

- What about proving ten years residence when, by definition, there are no documents?

- What about the risk of fraud? An American amnesty in the mid 1980s was found to attract 75% fraudulent applications from Mexicans [1].

- What about European experience with Amnesties? Here is the experience of Spain and Italy [2]:

1987/88 1990 1996 1998 2002
119,000 235,000 259,000 308,000 700,000

1985/86 1991 1996 2000 2001 2005
44,000 135,000 21,000 127,000 314,000 700,000

2 Regional Work Permits
Obviously impractical in British conditions as Andrew Marr pointed out. However, Clegg claimed that it works in Australia and Canada.

In Australia such work permits are only about 5% of total immigration which is itself subject to an overall policy driven limit – something that the Lib Dems oppose.

In Canada the Provinces can decide who they wish to bring in on a permanent basis but their right to move to other provinces is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a result many enter through the Quebec programme and then move to British Columbia. Thus the scheme does not achieve the aim described by Clegg.

3 Overall limit
Clegg claimed that most immigration is from the EU. This is false. Net immigration from the EU 15 has averaged only 20,000 over the past ten years. Net immigration from Eastern Europe is already falling (to 20,000 in 2008) [3}.

1. http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/LSELondon/pdf/ irregular%20migrants%20full%20report.pdf page 24, para3
2 Home Office on-line report 58/04 Table 5.1
3 http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=15053

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