A campaign calling for an amnesty for irregular migrant workers has been launched.
‘Strangers into Citizens’ is a year-long campaign aimed at stimulating a public call for a government policy to introduce a one-off limited regularisation of the many thousands of people who have made new lives in the UK without having official status. Such amnesties have already happened in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and the US. Since the 1970s, the EU states have regularised a total of 3.5 million, mostly between 1995 and 2000.
Under the proposals set out by the campaign, migrant workers who meet certain eligibility criteria – (proficiency in English, community ties, no criminal record) – are to be offered a two-year ‘pathway to citizenship’ during which they could legally work and pay taxes.
The campaign was launched in November 2006 by The East London Communities Organisation, an alliance of thirty-five faith groups, schools, student organisations, union branches and charities across five East London boroughs. It argues that the process of regularisation would not only put an end to the insecurity, exploitation and lack of rights that irregular migrants endure, it would also benefit wider society through increased tax revenues and by those regularised being able to play a fuller and more participatory role in their communities.
A key component of the Strangers into Citizens campaign is to tell the stories of migrant workers, to ‘re-humanise’ them in the face of media hostility. The campaign aims to sensitise British society to the irregular migrant, to awaken empathy and compassion.
Find out more about The East London Communities Organisation here
Find out more about The Citizen Organising Foundation here