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UK promises major crackdown on immigration soon

world Updated: Jul 18, 2010 15:47 IST

Britain has ruled out an amnesty for illegal migrants already in the country and has promised a 'summer of major crackdown' on illegal immigration from outside the European Union, particularly on bogus marriages for visa purposes and human smuggling.

Immigration Minister Damian Green, who is overseeing the process of limiting professionals from India and other countries outside the EU, has said that the summer would see 'a major crackdown' on the main streams of illegal immigration, including sham marriages, illegal workers and people trafficking.

In an interview to The Sunday Telegraph, he confirmed that this autumn the Government would set an overall cap on migrants entering Britain from outside the European Union.

Granting an amnesty to the unspecified number of illegal migrants already in the country, so that they could work and pay taxes legally, has been favoured by some policy think-tanks and sections of the ruling coalition.

London mayor Boris Johnson, who belongs to the Conservative party, is also in favour of such an amnesty.

Green, however, has ruled out granting any such amnesty.

Green said the coalition government's aim was to put "steady downwards pressure" on immigration from outside the EU so that net immigration fell "to the tens of thousands" by the time of the next election, expected in 2015.

He said: "There will not be an amnesty under this government: my Lib Dem colleagues have accepted that. Out there in other countries there has been the view that Britain's borders are not very well defended and that if you can get into this country it's relatively easy to operate here, to work illegally and so on. We've got to change that perception around the world."

Steady pressure on numbers to reduce net immigration substantially over time was the "best way to restore public confidence", he said.

Green also said that Britain will not follow France by introducing a law banning women from wearing the full face covering veil.

He said such a move would be "rather un-British" and run contrary to the conventions of a "tolerant and mutually respectful society".