In 2005 the issue of irregular migrants made headlines when David Roberts, Head of Removals at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) provoked an uproar by admitting that he did not have the “faintest idea” how many immigrants were illegally living in the UK.
In 2007, Home Secretary John Reid tabled proposals designed to make life difficult for those illegally in the country, and he reiterated the government’s commitment to “throwing out” as many as possible. The punitive rhetoric and targeting of “foreigners” who “steal our benefits”
Growing civil society resistance to these measures included calls for regularization of some 500,000 illegal residents and anti-deportation activism supported by the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC). In 2007, 65 Labour party backbenchers led by Jon Cruddas signed a motion lending their support to the Strangers into Citizens regularization proposal
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