The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to grant a “general pardon” to all migrants in the United Kingdom who will apply for coronavirus vaccination, the Daily Mail reported. With this step, the country wants to achieve collective immunity and loosen strict anti-epidemic measures as soon as possible. It is estimated that currently about 1.3 million people could live in the country illegally.
“Everyone has to get the vaccine, it’s for the safety of others,” the government said. The cabinet claims that illegal migrants will not overtake anyone on the vaccination waiting list, nor will the program be used to give other rights to illegal immigrants.
The government emphasized that the Home Office will not take any action against anyone who registers with a practitioner for the coronavirus vaccine even if they are staying illegally in the UK.
“Coronavirus vaccines will be offered to anyone living in the UK, regardless of immigration status,” a government spokesman said on Sunday. “Persons registered with a general practitioner are contacted, and we work closely with partners and external organizations to contact those who have no registration with a general practitioner. We have to make sure that they are offered a vaccine,” the government stated.
The government won’t check if migrants are in the country legally
The UK cabinet claims that if illegal migrants apply for vaccination, there will be no consequences for them. This guarantee will apply to all categories of illegal migrants whether they entered the country in trucks, on ships across the English Channel, on short-stay visas and stayed past their expiration, or those whose long-term residence permit had expired.
No one who applies for vaccination will have their immigration status checked. The same goes for those who have been infected or need a COVID-19 test.
This will mean that the identity of illegal migrants will not be passed on to the police or immigration officials who are responsible for deporting them. Depending on age and health risks, migrants will have to wait for their spot in the vaccination plan.
“In times of emergency, we see common sense behind this decision. As many people as possible must be vaccinated, however, it is unfortunate that governments have so far been reluctant to come up with thorough research into how many people are in this country with illegal status,” said Alp Mehmet of Migration Watch UK, which is campaigning for tighter border controls.
A study by the Pew Research Center found that in 2017 there were as many as 1.2 million “illegal migrants” in the UK.
Last year, a study by Oxford University concluded that there could be between 120,000 and 1.3 million illegal migrants in the country.
Title image: A group of people thought to be migrants run from an inflatable boat at Kingsdown beach where they arrived after crossing the English Channel, near Dover, Kent, England, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)