Sky News – August 24, 2011
Three out of four asylum seekers remain in the UK and the system costs £2m a day, migration campaigners have said.
One in four asylum decisions led to the applicant being removed from the country between 1997 and 2010, according to Migration Watch.
Analysis of 660,000 cases during that period suggests 243,000 people remained legally and 266,000 illegally, the pressure group said.
Of those denied asylum during this period, 151,540 were removed and 8,615 were later found to have left the country of their own accord.
But 266,000 are believed to have stayed anyway, Migration Watch said.
Some of these individuals may have been granted leave to remain when the UK Border Agency tried to clear a backlog of “legacy cases”.
Others may have been included in a “controlled archive” which means they have not been traced but there is no sign they left the country.
Since 1999, the amount spent on the asylum system and associated legal costs adds up to just under £10bn, or £2m a day, Migration Watch said.
The bulk of this money was spent on temporary accommodation for claimants while their applications were considered, prompting calls for the system to be sped up.
Sir Andrew Green, the chair of the campaign group, described the current rules as a “shambles”.
Those who are serious about protecting genuine refugees should be no less serious about removing bogus claimants, he said.
“The system needs to be much faster. Delays in the system leave the door open for appeals based on the right to family life without any consideration for the rights of society in general,” he said.
“It also needed to be much tougher on the bogus. It is absurd, for example, that we should allow people who have been in Britain illegally for years to claim asylum so as to delay or prevent their removal; this now applies to almost 60% of claimants.
“It is a pity that the lawyers have been so remarkably silent all these years.”
“The failure of the UK Border Agency to implement the decisions of the immigration appeal courts reduces their activities to a charade and brings the rule of law into disrepute,” he added.
Nearly half a million of the cases rejected by the Home Office went to appeal in the courts. However, three out of four of the cases were dismissed.
Migration Watch published their analysis the day before official figures are released on Thursday.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said the Government inherited a “hopelessly chaotic” system that did not provide value for money.
“Last year we reduced the total bill for asylum support by over £100m and it is falling further this year,” he said.
“Since taking office, we have nearly doubled the proportion of asylum seekers removed within one year of their application and around 60% of applicants now receive a decision within one month.”