MigrationWatch comment on the Prime Minister's article: Asylum Removals…


September 16, 2004

The Prime Ministers article for The Times on 16 September gives an incomplete picture of the position.

The article acknowledges the continued widespread abuse of the system admitting, for example, that 70% of those applying to our ports have destroyed their documents to make their removal more difficult.

But the spin-doctors have played with the numbers in three respects:

1. The Prime Ministers new "target" for removals is less than the Governments manifesto commitment. Asylum applications are now running at about 40,000 per year, including dependants. Historically, 60% have been refused asylum or permission to stay. So the new target amounts to 24,000 removals a year compared to a manifesto commitment of 30,000 a year which was later abandoned.

2. The article notes that "in 1996, the number of removals was equivalent to only 20% of unsuccessful claims". It does not admit that average removal rate in the period 1997 2003 was also 20%. Selecting the last two quarters and claiming 50% removal is, therefore, misleading.

3. Mention is made of the backlog of failed asylum seekers without any indication that the number for whom there is no evidence of departure now exceeds 250,000 (including dependants) in the period 1997 2003.

Commenting, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman, Migrationwatch UK said "At last the Government have acknowledged the scandal that a "system" that costs 2 billion a year results in only one in five failed asylum seekers being removed. Despite this, the Prime Ministers new "target" is likely to be lower than that promised in the 2001 manifesto.

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