John O | 07.05.2007 20:02
The Home Office estimates there are around 500,000 "illegal immigrants", a combination of visa overstayers and refused asylum seekers, and admits it does not have the resources to deport them (current deportations run at 25,000 a year).
Strangers into Citizens has been highlighting the plight of what it calls the "shadow people", who are condemned - often for years - to a limbo of fear and furtiveness. Most long-term overstayers work and pay taxes, using false IDs. Refused asylum seekers - many of whom are unwilling or unable to return - often face destitution because they are unable to work. A number of the stories have been collected on www.strangersintocitizens.org.uk.
The campaign is holding a National Day of Action and Celebration on 7 May, following a Mass at Westminster Cathedral celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and London's other Catholic bishops. Among the speakers at a rally in Trafalgar Square will be Baroness Shirley Williams, Jack Dromey, deputy general-secretary of the TGWU, and the Anglican Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler.