UK Border Agency failing to control immigration, say MPs

02 June 2011

In a report published today, the Home Affairs Committee criticises the lack of progress made by the UK Border Agency in effectively controlling immigration to the UK.

In the second of what is intended to be a series of reports on the Agency's work, the Committee raises serious concerns about the way the Agency approaches enforcement across the range of its activities:

  • 403,500 of the backlog of approximately 450,000 asylum cases have now been concluded, but the Committee notes that while only 38,000 (9%) of the applicants have had their claims rejected and subsequently been removed from the UK, 161,000 (40%) have been given leave to remain such a large proportion that it amounts in effect to an amnesty  and as many as 74,500 cases are being achieved as the applicants cannot be found and it is unknown whether they are in the UK, have left the country voluntarily or are dead;
  • The e-Borders scheme which has been the lynch-pin of successive Government’s programmes for controlling the UK’s borders  is still running significantly behind timetable and the Agency is pursuing a claim against the previous IT contractor who was dismissed for contract breaches after being paid £188 million;
  • The Agency has not carried out checks on all those employers registered as sponsors of skilled migrants, it does not systematically follow up intelligence of possible illegal migrants and there are grave doubts whether it has even the capacity to carry out the checks on sponsors and individuals.

According to MPs, the net result is that a very large number of people remain in the UK who either have no right to be here or who would have been removed had their cases been dealt with in a timely manner.

Rt. Hon Keith Vaz, Chairman of the Committee said:

"Though progress has been made it is clear that the UK Border Agency is still not fit for purpose. While there is no doubt that individual caseworkers are dedicated and hard-working, there are serious concerns over the agency's ability to deal with cases and respond to intelligence swiftly and thoroughly.

The Government is set on reducing immigration to the tens of thousands and effectively controlling immigration. It will have to ensure that the UK Border Agency begins to focus on the outcome rather than the processes of their work. It is disappointing that it is still without a permanent head after five months.

The processes need to be efficient and fair in dealing with genuine students and those filling skills shortages, but tough and uncompromising to those who seek to abuse the system and stay illegally."

Further information

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