Effective “amnesty” in UK asylum system, says report
2 June 2011
The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has today published a report, The work of the UK Border Agency (November 2010–March 2011), which accuses the UKBA of effectively creating an amnesty for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers whose cases have been delayed for years.
The report is not particularly easy to find online – it should be available on the Home Affairs Committee website, but isn’t for some reason. You can download a PDF here, see the previous reports here or read on this page via Scribd.
As has been picked up in media reports, the report concludes that the UKBA’s success in clearing a backlog of around 400,000 to 450,000 unresolved asylum cases has been achieved
through increasing resort to grants of permission to stay… or the parking of cases in a controlled archive, signifying that the applicant cannot be found and the Agency has no idea whether or not the applicant remains in the UK, legally or otherwise.
The committee also state that it is “indefensible” that
about 74,500 of the 400– 450,000 cases—approximately one in six—the UK Border Agency has been completely unable to trace what has happened to the applicant.
Finally, the way the backlog has been dealt with effectively amounts to an “amnesty”
We understand that Ministers would have been unwilling to announce an amnesty for the applicants caught up in this backlog, not least because this might be interpreted as meaning that the UK was prepared more generally to relax its approach towards migration; but we consider that in practice an amnesty has taken place, at considerable cost to the taxpayer.
As to immigration in general, the committee repeats its view that it is a “mistake to include students as ‘migrants’ unless or until the student makes an application or demonstrates the intention to wish to settle”. It also highlights the problem of hundreds of thousands of immigrants overstaying their visas.
On the new points based system for immigration,
[it] can function effectively only if there is confidence that sponsors will not abuse the system and that anyone who no longer qualifies for leave to remain is compelled to leave the UK.
As to media reports that the Government is considering abolishing the right of appeal for those reused entry clearance to visit family members:
it would not be appropriate for the authorities to be judge and jury when refusals occur, and the matter is pursued by solicitors or MPs making representations on behalf of the sponsors.
See also this summary by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. The full report is reproduced below.
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