Change of guidance results in “amnesty” for asylum seekers: House of Commons Report

Over 403,500 cases finalized, just 9% saw claims rejected

2nd June 2011:
The UK Border Agency has come under attack from Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, as the MPs claimed a change in guidance for border officials resulted in an “amnesty” for asylum seekers.
At least four out of 10 cases concluded led to the asylum seeker being permitted to stay in the UK. In fact, approximately 403,500 cases were finalized with just about 38,000 or nine per cent having their claims rejected and being removed from the UK.

Another 74,500 cases were consigned to the controlled archive “signifying that the applicant cannot be found and the agency has no idea whether or not the applicant remains in the UK”.

Nothing less than 161,000 or 40 per cent were granted leave to remain. The committee “such a large proportion that it amounts in effect to an amnesty”, the committee said

Elaborating, the MPs said many asylum seekers have been permitted to remain in Britain by officials going through a backlog of cases. This, they claimed, amounted to an amnesty.

The cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee report on the issue came to the conclusion that the UKBA’s target of clearing backlog of 450,000 cases by summer “seems to have been achieved largely through increasing resort to grants of permission to stay”.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz said the agency was “still not fit for purpose”.
"Though progress has been made it is clear that the UK Border Agency is not fit for purpose," he asserted.

"While there is no doubt that individual caseworkers are dedicated and hard-working, there are serious concerns over the agency’s ability to deal with cases and respond to intelligence swiftly and thoroughly."

The MPs asserted in an attempt to clear the backlog, the guidance was revised. It permitted officials to consider granting leave to remain to applicants the UK for between six and eight years, against 10-12 years at the start of the backlog-clearing process.
Vaz said: “There are serious concerns over the agency’s ability to deal with cases and respond to intelligence swiftly.”

"We consider that in practice an amnesty has taken place, at considerable cost to the taxpayer," the report added.

Immigration Minister Damian Green, on the other hand, asserted: “There’s absolutely no amnesty.”

"We are already radically reforming the points-based system and other routes of entry that have been subject to widespread abuse and will re-introduce exit checks by 2015," said Immigration Minister Damian Green.

"We are making greater use of intelligence to remove people with no right to be here and are concluding individual cases faster."


In 2010, 16,500 people removed directly from removal centres

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