I know it is a major debating point in America, but it is just as much so in the UK. For at least 13 years of Labor government Britain has allowed unfettered immigration with a nod and a wink at the laws of the land. One of the reasons for this has been the growth in the economy started under the Tories in 1995 and continued until 2007 when Gordon Brown was caught with his trousers down. Rather than compelling British layabouts to take work, they were featherbedded by benefits funded by inflation imported from China, while immigrants from Poland, Romania, the Baltic states and Bulgaria were welcomed via their EU status and meantime swathes of people from the Indian sub-continent were admitted as 'students' and family members, all prepared to take poorly paid jobs.
The recession has made the problem worse as jobs have disappeared and more and more benefits claimed; quite apart from the pressure on schools and the NHS that the immigrants bring. Although we do not have the porous southern border that the USA does, it has been relatively easy for visitors to overstay their visas, for bogus marriages to be conducted, for economic migrants to claim asylum and for young men to find ways of crossing the Channel. It would not take Arizona-style laws to close these loopholes, though the European Union remains a thorn in our flesh, especially as countries like Hungary offer passports to various Russians and Moldovans with very tenuous claims to Hungarian citizenship. Heaven help us if Spain offers passports to most of South America. We must certainly close our borders.
After years of not enforcing the law, it would be churlish to turn around to the illegals and kick them out; in any case the European Court would find a way of stopping us. On the other hand to offer an amnesty would just encourage more to come in the hope that they would get one too.
Of all places I found this in USA Today from Richard Land, who is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention
Immigration reform legislation must:
•Respect the God-given dignity of every person
•Protect the unity of the immediate family
•Respect the rule of law
•Guarantee secure national borders
•Ensure fairness to taxpayers
•Establish a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and wish to become permanent residents.
The government has not controlled the borders. The reality has been that too often, those who desire to enter our country illegally have encountered two apparently contradictory signs at our border: one saying "No Trespassing" and the other saying "Help Wanted."
Once the borders are secure, we should have a grace period where undocumented workers can come forward, register, pay fines and back taxes, undergo a criminal background check, agree to learn to read, write and speak English, and go to the back of the line behind those who have, and are, trying to enter our country legally. Those who do not choose to accept this generous offer should be deported immediately.
This is not amnesty. Amnesty is a pardon, a "free ride," where government forgives your transgressions and pardons it with no obligations or penalties. This proposal would allow undocumented workers to come forward, obtain a probationary state and begin to earn their way to full legal status.
No one is saying that they haven't broken the law and they should not be punished for doing so. The only question is what is to be the nature of the punishment — deportation (which means uprooting huge numbers of people and tearing families apart) or the penalties outlined above.