Recently we pointed to an explosive claim that there has been a recent ‘increase in abuse’ of the asylum system.
This triggered the open borders industry. Clearly we struck a nerve.
We cited as a source a June 2020 National Audit Office report (NAO) on immigration enforcement which examined a claim by the Home Office of an ‘increase in abuse’ of the asylum system resulting from a rise in the number of applications linked to ‘spurious late challenges to removal’.
The report also notes that the Home Office ‘believes there is a severe risk that individuals from minority groups in some countries, including Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria, may use fraudulent documents to … misrepresent their status on asylum claims‘.
The suggestion that there is rising asylum abuse – and by officials who are responsible for immigration enforcement no less – is concerning.
The questions to be answered in this post are:
- Did the NAO find in their report that (as some allege) that the Home Office did not have evidence to support their belief?
- Is abuse of the asylum system a figment of the imagination, as some in the open borders lobby suggest?
1. Did the NAO find in their report that the Home Office did not have evidence to support their belief?
No. The NAO referred to a claim by the Home Office that abuse has been happening and that backlogs may be being ’caused by associated delaying tactics’ (on p.38 of the report).
The watchdog added, however, that it has not seen evidence to suggest:
- That the Home Office analysed whether it could have done more to address potential obstacles at earlier stages of the asylum process.
- That some of the transformational changes that the Home Office has introduced may inadvertently have led to new problems elsewhere in the system.
- That it has tried to actively understand and manage these ‘challenges’.
The NAO added that the Home Office also appeared to have ‘no strategy across the work of Immigration Enforcement and the rest of the Department to reduce the frequency‘ posed by the ‘challenge’ of ‘late challenges to removal’.
What the NAO do not appear to be saying is that the Home Office has no evidence to support its contention of abuse.
Far from saying that abuse is not occurring, the NAO’s thrust appears to be that the Home Office is not doing enough to tackle or understand the various challenges cited in its report.
2. Is abuse of the asylum system a figment of the imagination (as some claim)?
No. The Home Office’s assertion has been partially corroborated by similar findings by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders who wrote in a 2017 report (see p.7): ‘There is… considerable evidence of individuals who have been issued with removal directions making ‘last minute’ asylum claims… in order to frustrate planned removals‘.
Separately, David Wood, a former Director General of Immigration Enforcement wrote the following in a Civitas report published just last year:
“For illegal immigrants who are encountered the asylum process provides a default route to delay, and often avoid, deportation. Individuals seeking to abuse the UK immigration system who are encountered by immigration officials would routinely raise different forms of legal challenge, including asylum claims, as the evidence is clear that the longer the individual manages to remain in the UK, the more likely they are to avoid deportation.”
Judges have also noted major problems. For example, Lady Justice Sharp and Mr Justice Green said in a ruling in April 2018 that misconduct among immigration lawyers who start court hearings simply to thwart attempts to remove failed asylum seekers was of “deep concern” (see Policy Exchange, July 2018).
And only this month, a senior Home Office official told a Parliamentary Committee: “We are seeing a lot of what we believe are spurious claims.” She also agreed the UK’s high asylum grant rate to those who are classed as unaccompanied asylum seeking children (despite the difficulty of making age determinations) is an ‘incentive to traffickers’.
It is clear that abuse has been and is occurring. The Home Office say so and so do a range of independent observers. Is it increasing? The NAO report acknowledges evidence of increasing numbers of claims against removal at late stages in the process.
Questions remain about the reasons for the increase, but the fact that the Home Office sees it as the result of an ‘increase in abuse’ is concerning in itself.
The open borders lobby seems to be in denial about the abuse and the range of shortcomings in the asylum process.
This despite the fact that such problems have been copiously documented by former senior Home Office personnel, by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and even by the BBC.
Now they have been confirmed by the Home Office itself.
Instead of arguing over semantics, it is time to work together to figure out ways in which to tackle this abuse.
It is right that the UK offers sanctuary to those who truly need it.
Abuse of the asylum system risks genuine refugees being crowded out by bogus asylum seekers.
That is wrong and it must be swiftly addressed.