Media response to today's asylum figures - Reduction of asylum applications masks a failure to remove

November 07, 2003

Commenting on today's asylum figures think tank Migrationwatch welcomed the reduction in claims which will reduce the pressure on the asylum system and the cost (currently about £2bn a year) to the tax payer - even though Britain is still the largest recipient of asylum seekers in the industrialised world.

But, it says, this may not be the whole picture.  Some of those who enter illegally may no longer be claiming asylum as they know that late applicants will be refused benefits. 

However, this success masks the continued failure of the Government to remove those who fail to qualify either for asylum or Humanitarian Protection and no longer have any right to be in Britain. The number of people finally refused has trebled in the last three years from 21,000 in 2000 to 66,000 in 2002.  Yet the number of removals has increased by only 1,700 to 13,300 in that period so nearly 9 out of 10 asylum seekers manage to stay in Britain, the majority of them illegally. 

Commenting, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch UK said:

'Removal of those with no right to be here remains the key issue. 
Furthermore, the government is sending out conflicting signals. While struggling to close the back door to 50,000 asylum seekers, some of whom may be genuine the Government has opened the front door to record levels of economic migration - this year they will issue 175,000 work permits. Last year alone non - British immigration reached ¼ million.  We need a proper debate about where all this is leading.'

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