July 5 (UPI) -- Undocumented immigrants who may have escaped the June 14 fire in London's Grenfell Tower have been granted a one-year amnesty, the British government announced Wednesday.
Officials speculate that some immigrants may have been illegally subletting in the 24-story tower and are hesitant to cooperate with authorities investigating the fire, which led to at least 80 deaths, Sky News reported Sunday.
Those subletting the apartments will not face prosecution or deportation, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said.
Javid, a cabinet minister, said that "supporting those affected by the tragic events at Grenfell Tower has been the absolute priority of the government. That includes making sure that loved ones still missing are identified. Therefore, I would urge those with information to come forward without fear of prosecution."
The Evening Standard reported Wednesday that Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis informed the British Parliament that the government would not conduct immigration checks on witnesses coming forward with information regarding the fire.
"We recognize some foreign nationals directly affected by the fire may not wish to engage with the authorities due to concerns about their unresolved immigration status, or if their status is about to expire," Lewis told members of Parliament. "I am therefore announcing today that those individuals directly affected by the Grenfell Tower fire who contact the Home Office via a specified process will be given a period of limited leave to remain in the U.K. with full access to relevant support and assistance."
An investigation into the cause of the fire centers on the building's decorative exterior cladding, made of single plastic sheets compressed within two aluminum sheets. Similar cladding found on 181 high-rise buildings across Britain have all failed fire safety tests since the Grenfell tower fire.