THERE is always a seasonal debate about irregular migrants or people who are liable to be deported for some issues related to their immigration status.
Europe is one of the least densely populated continents in the world, with Asia taking the league title for the largest number of people per square kilometre. Still, the sometimes overestimated facts and figures about foreigners in Europe clearly make the former look like an unwanted species in their new adopted lands.
To use the term irregular migration is to negate any link with criminality. Usually the popular press, certain policymakers in the centre of governments and the right-wing think-tanks that joyride with them prefer to use the term illegal immigrants.

A report released in the UK in 2006 by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed that if the government went ahead with deportations of all the estimated 490,000 irregular migrants, it will stand to lose almost £4.7 billion.

Once this phraseology is used everything else cannot be the same because an illegal immigrant is essentially a criminalised entity in the midst of the host residents. Therefore it does not surprise when most irregular migrants go underground to avoid being detected by the immigration authorities of various European countries.

The right-wing British National Party, the National Front and some of their supporters in Northern Ireland started using legitimate democratic channels, the election platforms, to instil fear in people, claiming that foreigners are a threat to society. This new legitimate politics – standing for council elections and parliament – may easily become the new ‘democratic’ element of Northern Irish politics. The BNP proclaimed their presence in the North. Who can really stop their ideology? Nobody, because they will attend to you as a legitimate political party.
A report released in the UK in 2006 by the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed that if the government went ahead with deportations of all the estimated 490,000 irregular migrants, it will stand to lose almost £4.7 billion. Each individual migrant would cost £11,000 to transport back to their country. If the government rescinded this move, it would make be over £2.5 billion in taxes annually. Well, these figures are not absolute and neither is the general indication that irregular migration pumps in a lot of good money. Most irregular migrants work under very poor conditions. They mostly work in sectors that pay very low wages, sometimes as small as £3 an hour. 

Because their legal status is not guaranteed, their livelihoods are dictated by the fan-base of right-wing theorists and policymakers who prefer the option of a slimmer Europe.
 Fortunately, not all Europeans think the same because if this were the case, then irregular migration would be dealt a heavy blow. Most European countries maintained an open-door policy in the post-war period to the late 1970s because of a need for labour. Once this vacuum was filled, migration into Europe was effectively controlled whereby different countries applied various policies suitable to their markets and socio-political systems.


When others say that irregular migrants are sponging off the social security system, what they are forgetting is the principal reason why that desperation exists. The Europeans may have sponged off from Africa in immense proportions. Africans on the other hand have done their minuscule bit, only those who have done it. But it is not a tit-for-tat game, it can never be reparations either, or Africans demanding what they think was theirs. But if you asked most of the African migrants who have flourished through the irregular migration route, they will give you a credible answer: they came because the economy was good. They could sustain better livelihoods in the pound sterling economy more than they can do with the Tanzanian shilling or Nigerian Naira. The benefits system, they would probably say is a humanitarian consequence of being in Europe as an irregular migrant, some parts of Europe anyway.
In simple words, the Europeans migrated into Africa in the last three centuries illegally. They occupied the land just by pegging and fencing their new empires. They did not show their passports or visas. They strode in and wandered the beautiful savannah with their beautiful horses. They shot at the African wildlife, the buffalos and the elephants, just for the fun of it. They came in with the Bible. The African had never even seen a hard or soft cover before. The African was then bewitched by the spiritual credibility of the Bible. They sounded very genuine, some of the miraculous tales in the old book.

So the missionary asked the African to shut his eyes and when the prayer in the book of Revelations was over, the African land was gone too. So the fact that the migration debate has totally failed to appreciate the historical dimension is clearly a major reason why it remains a reactionary, right-wing let-us-remove-them circus.
 At a comparative level, the UK and Ireland have not seen any huge irregular migration by any proportion. In the United States, where the debate has taken almost sickening policy options, there are 10.3 million irregular migrants and this figure grows at an annual rate of 300,000.


If laid in context, no amount of increased restrictions or border patrols has prevented irregular migration in the United States. A general amnesty might be the only good policy in the future of American politics.   
 Calling for an amnesty for the existing half a million irregular migrants will be the best possible option for the UK government. The anti-amnesty commentators reckon that if the irregular migrants were given permanent stay, this would open floodgates and may encourage further irregular migration. But regular migration will reduce the exploitation of these migrants by employers and human traffickers.