Amnesty. Or Learning to Share.

I have to admit, my first thought when I read: Amol Rajan: An amnesty for illegal immigrants is good economics – Comment – Comment – London Evening Standard was not a good one.

Why should illegal immigrants get a free pass when I and so many other law-abiding and hard working people that I know play by the rules?

Logical, but wrong.

As Rajan stresses, these are people, not numbers. People with individual stories, more often than not heartbreaking; separated families, a life lived outside the system – which is harder than it sounds. And, admittedly, some bad eggs. But the people who for whatever reason have fallen outside the system, by choice or sad accident, and who have roots here and lives – it would be kinder and more sensible, economically speaking, to bring them into the (taxation, citizenship) fold.

It’s not a case of either/or – their gain is not the loss of people like me who are here legally. That’s divide and rule talking; that’s a limited-resources-your-cake-makes-mine-smaller argument. It feels right for an instant, but ultimately it’s selfish and wrong.

However….it goes both ways. The actions of a few, even if some are criminal, should not be held against the overwhelming majority of people playing by the rules, trying to keep up with what sometimes feels like the whimsy of the Home Office with regards to regulations, fees and waiting times for visas (and rule changes are many; fees are close to £1,000 and if you’re not paying for premium one-day service, you’re looking at anything up to six months without your passport).

The fact is, the immigration rules are forever changing because immigration is seen as a problem first and foremost; never mind globalisation and being “open for international business, education and skills”. Until that is resolved and a truly honest debate held, with actual facts and figures not anecdotes from the Daily Mail, both legal and illegal migrants will find themselves on the same side: the unpopular one.

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