In Britain today there is an underclass of people excluded from mainstream society, who's sole crime is to have sought a better life for themselves and their families. These people are immigrants in the UK illegally and the home office estimates that there may be six hundred thousand of them.
Many protectionists continue to harbour dreams of deporting these people but this is hardly a practical option. Think of how much it would cost, the UK already spends £5bn a year on deporting people and this would have to be increased many times to deport everyone. The last thing overstretched police forces need is to have to spend yet more time chasing immigrants rather than real criminals. Can you imagine how many coaches and planes we would to get these people home? Not to mention all the jobs they are currently doing being left unfilled. It is a crazy idea.
These people are here and they are here to stay. This leaves us with a choice the status quo of six hundred thousand people living in an illegal twilight zone, not paying taxes and working in the shadow economy or do we give these people the chance to end their internal exile.
The amnesty that has been proposed by Nick Clegg over the past few days is certainly a step in the right direction as it would be expected to take a significant number of people out of the illegal underclass and allow them to work legally and pay taxes.
There are, however, plenty of problems. The incompetence of the immigration directorate is so great that they would struggle to administer an amnesty. More fundamentally, it is at best a temporary measure. People will continue coming to the UK as long as there are jobs for them to do and we will eventually have to deal with a new population of illegal immigrants who arrived after the amnesty.
Better by far would be to end immigration controls and stop punishing people for wanting to live and work in a country other than the one they were born in. This would not only allow people to escape from the illegal underclass but put an end to human trafficking, relieve labour shortages in certain sectors of the economy and allow us to take advantage of new skills and ideas.
Unfortunately, free trade in labour is not going to a practical political option any time soon and on the principle that the best should not be the enemy of the good. I am happy to support calls for an amnesty and say: 'keep up the good work Nick.'