The Home Office has acknowledged losing track of nearly 6,000 asylum seekers in the UK, whose claims were withdrawn. This revelation, shared with MPs, has sparked anger and criticism, with Labour labeling it as proof of “shocking mismanagement and chaos” in the asylum system, as reported by The Daily Mail.
This admission came in response to the Commons Home Affairs Committee’s inquiry into the whereabouts of over 17,000 asylum seekers with withdrawn claims. In a letter to committee chairwoman Dame Diana Johnson, ministers Michael Tomlison and Tom Pursglove admitted that 32 percent of these individuals, about 5,598 asylum seekers, remain in the UK. The Home Office is urgently working to re-establish contact with them.
Ministers clarified that when a claim is withdrawn and an individual lacks other stay permissions in the UK, both funding and support cease, rendering them subject to law enforcement activity for removal. Additionally, their past actions may undergo scrutiny by caseworkers, potentially impacting credibility.
Statistics further show that 35 percent (5,931) of asylum seekers remain in the UK and maintain contact with the Home Office, their cases handled by various teams. Meanwhile, 18 percent (3,144) are no longer in the UK and lack a basis for a continuing asylum claim. The remaining 15 percent (2,643) have re-engaged with the Home Office and have been granted some form of lawful immigration status.
These figures highlight concerns about potential asylum cases returning to the backlog after initial recording as withdrawn, prompting questions about the efficiency and effectiveness of the asylum system.
Yvette Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, expressed dismay, deeming the Home Office’s admission of losing track of nearly 6,000 asylum seekers a “staggering admission.” She criticized the Conservative government for prioritizing gimmicks over addressing fundamental issues in the asylum system.
This revelation follows a rebuke from the statistics watchdog over accusations of government lies about meeting targets to clear part of the asylum backlog, raising concerns about eroding public trust.
Despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to address the ‘legacy’ claims backlog, challenges persist, with 4,537 outstanding applications as of December 28. Efforts to reduce this backlog by the previous year’s end faced obstacles.
The passage of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill through the House of Commons underscores the government’s ‘Stop the Boats’ strategy, but criticisms and concerns remain before the first deportation flights to Rwanda.
These challenges put the Home Office’s ability to manage and track asylum cases under scrutiny, prompting questions about the overall efficacy of the UK’s asylum system and its impact on public trust.
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