January 15, 2003The chaos in the asylum and immigration system and the potential for widespread misuse of public services makes the introduction of entitlement cards an urgent priority.
That is the view of independent think-tank MigrationwatchUK in their submission to the Government's consultation exercise on entitlement cards. (Click here for the full text of the submission).
'Astounding as it may seem, there is no consensus to within a million as to who is in Britain. Each year some 12 million visitors from outside Western Europe enter Britain legally,' said Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of MigrationwatchUK.
'As an economy measure in the mid 90's the Government stopped checking who leaves. This means we have no idea who still remains here, nor the degree to which they use services, such as the NHS, to which they are not entitled.
'There are also significant consequences for security,' he said. 'No single measure will defeat the terrorists but we must tilt the balance against them.'
Sir Andrew said that last year's Government White Paper on asylum and immigration had accepted that there were probably hundreds of thousands of illegal workers in the UK. Their numbers increase every year as nearly 9 out of 10 asylum seekers succeed in staying here, most of them illegally.
'We are rightly proud of our record of support to those in genuine fear of persecution but this generosity is now routinely abused and people can see with their own eyes that nothing effective is being done to tackle it,' he said.
Sir Andrew said that, as a result, the introduction of entitlement cards should be given the highest priority - not phased in over nine years as suggested by the Government. To do nothing is no longer an option.