MPs: Migrants backlog “spiralling out of control”

The number of backlog cases the UK Border Agency is dealing with rose by 25,000 in the first quarter of the year, now totalling to 174,000, MPs have said.

The backlog is almost the same as Iceland's population (320,000) and spiralling out of control, Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz said.

In a new report titled “The Work of the UKBA Border Agency (April to June 2012”, the Committee says there are individuals without leave to remain in the UK, who cannot be traced.

The report criticises the Agency for making little progress in deporting ex-foreign national offenders (ex-FNOs) quickly at the end of their sentence.

There are 3,954 ex-FNOs living in the community whilst deportation action against them proceeds. Sixty three per cent of these have been released for more than two years.

The backlog, the Committee says, will continue to grow. It has in fact emerged that 94% of those released from prison in the second quarter of this year still had their cases outstanding at the end of the quarter.

The report further reveals that by the end of June 2012, there were 95,000 cases in the ‘controlled archive’, that is, the cases the Agency has no control over and does not even know where the applicants are. There were 74,000 in the asylum controlled archive and 21,000 in the migration controlled archive.

While the UKBA has said it will close the controlled archive at the end of the year, the Committee believes that UKBA’s optimism is misplaced.

The Committee has called on the UKBA to make sure that final checks are not rushed and emphasised the importance of making preparations for dealing with any untraced applicants subsequently found to be living in the UK.

The Committee doubts that the Agency is adequately equipped to deal with the increase in asylum applications.

While the cases receiving an initial decision within 30 days have declined by 12%, those waiting for an initial decision after six months have risen by 36% since June 2011.

The quality of UKBA’s decision making has also been questioned. This year 13 people have been granted asylum in the UK following rejection of a previous claim and removal to their country of origin.

Poor decision making may result in people being returned home when they face persecution and torture.

Following the events at London Metropolitan University, the Committee urges the Agency to conduct further checks on international students who have already been accepted by the University to make sure they have permission to be in the UK and are complying with their visas.

The Committee however urges the UKBA to let genuine continue their studies at the University.

“Entering the world of the UKBA is like falling through the looking glass,” says Mr. Vaz. “The closer we look the more backlogs we find, their existence obscured by opaque names such as the ‘Migration Refusal Pool’ and the ‘Controlled Archive’. UKBA must adopt a transparent and robust approach to tackling this problem instead of creating new ways of camouflaging backlogs.”

The UKBA senior staff should not receive any bonuses until the entire backlog is cleared, the Committee says.

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