Thursday, August 25, 2011

£10bn legacy of shambles over asylum: 'Labour Party failings have left 250,000 illegals'

Labour spent £2million every day on a shambolic asylum system which failed to remove hundreds of thousands of bogus claimants, reveals a blistering study.

An audit of the last government’s record reveals how officials spent as much as £10billion processing applications as they struggled to cope with a surge in numbers.

But only one in four of the 660,000 decisions made on asylum claims between 1997 and 2010 led to the applicant being removed.

Even where the claim was considered to be unfounded, the majority of failed asylum-seekers were not sent home. They are now living here illegally.

Last night, immigration minister Damian Green said it was a symptom of the ‘hopeless chaos’ which Labour inflicted on the UK’s border controls.

The study by the MigrationWatch think-tank found that 660,000 asylum cases were decided from 1997 to 2010.

Some form of humanitarian protection, including asylum, was granted in 243,000 cases. This left 417,000 claimants who were rejected and should have left the UK. But only 151,540 – or 36 per cent – of those denied asylum were removed. Another 8,615 were found to have left without telling the authorities.

This means more than 250,000 have neither left nor been removed and are therefore presumed to remain in the UK illegally, MigrationWatch said.

Its report also found that between 2008 and 2010, 59 per cent of claims were lodged only after the person had been detected by the authorities. Asylum-seekers with genuine claims are supposed to claim at the first possible opportunity – not after they have been caught working illegally or sneaking into the country.

Britain was also found to approve more claims than France, through which many claimants pass to reach the allegedly ‘soft touch’ UK. In 2009, Britain granted permission to stay in 28 per cent of cases, compared with 19 per cent in France. Under Labour, the annual number of asylum cases increased hugely from 32,500 in 1997 to a peak of 85,000 in 2002.

MigrationWatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘The asylum system has proved to be a £10billion shambles. Those who, like ourselves, are serious about protecting genuine refugees should be no less serious about removing bogus claimants. ‘The system needs to be much faster. Delays leave the door open for appeals based on the right to family life.

‘It also needed to be much tougher on the bogus. It is absurd that we allow people who have been in Britain illegally for years to claim asylum to delay or prevent their removal; this applies to almost 60 per cent of claimants.’

The study estimated the cost of asylum since 1999 at close to £10billion, including legal aid and court costs. This includes £2.8billion for temporary accommodation, £927million on payments to support those awaiting a ruling and almost £500million for failed claimants who cannot return home or are taking steps to leave the UK.

The report, based on research published by the Home Office, warns it is difficult to know exactly what happened in every case because of the chaos and confusion of recent years. Five years ago, ministers identified more than 400,000 ‘legacy cases’ which officials had never resolved. Some have since been granted settlement or removed.

Mr Green, the immigration minister, said: ‘The system we inherited was hopelessly chaotic and did not provide the taxpayer with value for money. ‘Last year, we reduced the bill for asylum support by over £100million and it is falling further this year.

‘We have nearly doubled the proportion of asylum-seekers removed within a year of their application and around 60 per cent of applicants receive a decision within a month.’


Australia, PNG sign MOU on Manus I. detention for illegals

The federal government and Papua New Guinea have signed a memorandum of understanding on reopening Manus Island to process asylum seekers.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the MOU was signed on Friday afternoon and signals an important step in the process of establishing what he says will be an Australian-funded 'assessment centre'.

'The Manus Island centre will complement the Malaysia transfer arrangement and provide further disincentive for people considering risking their lives on dangerous boat journeys,' Mr Bowen said in a statement.

'This MOU sends a clear message that countries in this region are working together towards a lasting regional response.'

The MOU provides a framework to how the detention centre will operate.

Mr Bowen said the two countries were working to have it operational 'at the earliest opportunity'.

The MOU recognises the need for a regional solution to people smuggling and notes that both countries are signatories to the UN convention on refugee rights.

It also commits to treating detainees with dignity and respect, to processing them as quickly as possible, while noting that Australia will bear all the costs of their assessments.


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