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Comment 10th July 2010

Britain's illegal immigrant problem will only be solved if the government allows non-citizens to purchase their legalised status, a thinktank believes. "Deporting all Britain's illegal immigrants is impossible. Any rational approach to the problem must involve some form of regularisation,"

"The best way to do this is through an earned amnesty."

Why does this matter?

1. The migrants have acquired the right to stay by virtue of their long association with the UK. The state's moral right to deport them has eroded over time, just as their moral claim to legal residency has grown.

2. By not regularising, the UK is permitting a substantial sub-class of people to exist outside the law. This is bad for them, and bad for the UK. Regularising encourages more people to obey the law and to contribute financially and civically.

3. Failure to regularise allows for the existence of a shadow or parallel economy, outside the law, in which exploitation and people-trafficking thrive. Regularising, conversely, shrinks the shadow economy, and therefore discourages illegal immigration. This was the experience of Spain when it regularised in 2005. Not only were there substantial fiscal and economic benefits, but levels of immigration declined.

4. The London School of Economics estimates that regularising undocumented migrants would add approximately £3bn to the economy

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