British Lawmakers Say Asylum Seekers Have Gotten ‘Amnesty’

Posted June 2nd, 2011 at 4:45 am (UTC-5)
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A British parliamentary investigation has concluded that so many asylum seekers have been allowed to stay in the country that it amounted to an “amnesty” for them.

In a scathing assessment Thursday of Britain's immigration agency, the lawmakers found that “a very large number” of asylum seekers remain in the country “who either have no right to be here” or would have been deported if immigration officials had dealt with their cases “in a timely manner.”

When Prime Minister David Cameron took office a year ago, he vowed to deal with the huge backlog of asylum applications, a sensitive issue in Britain. The parliamentary investigators found that more than 403,000 of the 450,000 asylum bids have been considered, with 161,000 foreign nationals being allowed to stay in Britain.

The lawmakers said the large percentage of approvals “amounts in effect to an amnesty.”

So far, 38,000 applicants have been deported. More than 74,000 asylum seekers who sought to stay in Britain could not be found, so officials do not know if they are in Britain, have left for another country or are dead. The lawmakers said they “consider this indefensible.”

Immigration Minister Damian Green said Mr. Cameron's Conservative government inherited a “chaotic” asylum system from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Green said there is “absolutely no amnesty” for asylum seekers and that most important thing is that the backlog has nearly been cleared.