Tuesday, April 19, 2005

UK Government Hides Truth About Illegal Immigration

According to the London Times, Tony Blair's government has determined a rough estimate of the number of illegal aliens currently residing in Britain, despite Downing Street's claims to the contrary.
The government has secretly calculated there are about 500,000 illegal immigrants in Britain despite repeated claims by ministers that they do not know the scale of the problem.

The figure has been compiled by Home Office officials. Yet one of its ministers told MPs in February there was “no official estimate”.

The research was ordered by Tony Blair more than a year ago “as a matter of urgency” following a Downing Street summit on immigration, a confidential Whitehall memo reveals.

However, in the face of a political controversy over lax controls at Britain’s borders, experts involved were told not to reveal the figure. It includes not only migrants who have illegally entered Britain to work in the black market but also failed asylum seekers who should have been deported.

The estimate — equivalent to the population of Sheffield — is far higher than previous figures from campaigners such as Migration Watch UK and is likely to intensify the row over immigration.
The number of illegal aliens in Britain has doubtless been kept secret for political reasons. With an election looming and pressure to restrict legal immigration and clamp down on illegal immigration from the opposition Tories, the Blair government hardly needs any more bad news.
Last week the Tories claimed immigration controls were a shambles after an illegal immigrant was convicted of murdering a policeman and plotting a terrorist attack with the poison ricin.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: “This government now admits that the number of illegal immigrants is at least 500,000 and it could be much more. But yet again it is covering up the truth from the public. This smacks of a desperate attempt to conceal its own facts.”
Experts who consulted on the government's study of illegal immigrant numbers affirmed both its existence and the secrecy with which it was conducted.
The existence of the estimate was confirmed this weekend by Professor John Salt, director of the Migration Research Unit at University College London, who was commissioned by the Home Office to study the number of illegal migrants.

“I have seen the first run through (of the figures),” he said. “I was consulted as an expert and I made some comments.”

Salt’s disclosure appears to contradict statements by Des Browne, the immigration minister, who told MPs in February there was “no official estimate for the number of illegal immigrants working in the United Kingdom”.

Only last week Charles Clarke, the home secretary, told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that he did not know how many illegal immigrants there were in Britain.

Salt, a world expert on immigration, said his estimate — provided to the Home Office — was between 450,000 and 500,000 illegal immigrants. “If I were in a court of law and asked what was my best estimate, that’s what I would say,” he said.

His paper had also originally included detailed estimates of the numbers of illegal migrants working here, but he said the figures were removed by the Home Office when it was published last year.

When he was given a copy of the department’s estimate of the number of illegal immigrants last October, he said officials had told him they did not want to release the information and had asked him to keep the figure confidential. “If they don’t want to release the information, I can’t release it,” he said this weekend.

However, a Home office source confirmed the department’s figure was similar to Salt’s estimate of 500,000. According to the confidential Downing Street memo, the research was ordered by Blair when he and Home Office ministers held an “asylum stocktake” at No 10 in March last year.
Though half a million illegal aliens pales to the estimated 10 million illegals (mostly Mexican) currently living in the US, recall that Britain has less than a quarter of the US population and an even smaller fraction of the US geographic expanse. Recall, too, that Britain is an island and does not share two and three thousand mile borders with other countries. This should make immigration controls considerably easier for the UK. What the study clearly demonstrates is the utter failure of the UK government to control its borders and to manage immigration policy to benefit the British people. It also reveals that the Labor government understands that British public opinion has swung strongly against its open door immigration policy and that the political consequences for Labor's lax immigration enforcement may be correspondingly harsh.


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