Published On: Tue, Oct 10th, 2017

‘We need answers!’ Fury as one million illegal migrants ‘set to remain in UK’


Theresa May and migrantsGETTY

‘We can’t kick out 1 million illegal immigrants’ said a former border chief


David Wood, an ex-director general of immigration enforcement at the Home Office, told MPs there were “enormous difficulties” in tracking down the cheats and returning them overseas.

He also claimed the Home Office urgently needed extra resources to ensure the country’s borders are strengthened after Brexit.

But his admission triggered fury among Tory MPs last night amid concern that officials are failing to get a grip on illegal immigration.

Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: “It is not acceptable for officials to throw their hands up in the air and say nothing can be done – that would be tantamount to declaring an amnesty on illegal immigration.

If we are going to have an immigration system that people have confidence in we need to find them and move them on

Nigel Mills – Tory MP for Amber Valley

“The Government should be rounding up people who are not here legally and kicking them out of the country. 

“I don’t think taxpayers would expect any less.

“And the question of how they got here in the first place needs to be answered.”

And Nigel Mills, a fellow Tory who represents Amber Valley, said: “I am sure my constituents would be horrified to hear that so many people get here illegal and seem to be able to live, work and rent homes here when we are supposed to have rules to stop them doing that.”

“If we are going to have an immigration system that people have confidence in we need to find them and move them on.

“This can’t just be overlooked as if it is too hard to do anything about because that would lead to chaos and be an incentive to people to break the rules.

“The rules need to be clear and they need to be enforced.”

Mr Wood spoke out at a hearing of the Commons Home Affairs Committee at Westminster yesterday.

Philip Davies MP for ShipleyUPPA

Philip Davies said that is not acceptable to say that ‘nothing can be done’ on illegal immigration

He said: “There’s probably over a million foreigners here illegally at the moment. There’s a large number, so no-one could ever remove those really.

“But what there needs to be is a consequence, there needs to be seen that there is a risk that if you don’t abide by the immigration rules, and you overstay or you commit crimes, there is a consequence and a real risk of being removed.”

Official statisticians have said it is impossible to accurately quantify the number of people in the country unlawfully.

In an estimate 12 years ago, a Home Office assessment put the total unauthorised migrant population living in the UK in 2001 at 430,000.

And a report published earlier this year by the social policy think-tank Civitas suggested that illegal immigration was running at a minimum of 150,000 a year.

This total includes newcomers who remain in the country beyond the period allowed under their visas, or after asylum claims are rejected, as well as people who arrived with no legal entitlement in the first place.

The main count used to track trends in regular immigration is net migration, which is based on a survey of passengers and measures the difference between the numbers arriving in and leaving the country for at least a year.

Net long-term international migration was running at an estimated 246,000 in the year ending March 2017.

Illegal immigrants in FranceGETTY

A report by Civitas suggested that illegal immigration is running at a minimum of 150,000 a year

The committee is examining the capacity of the immigration system to cope with the challenges posed by Brexit, including the task of documenting more than three million EU citizens currently in the country and preparing for a new post-departure regime.

Mr Wood, who retired from the Home Office in 2015, said: “Right across the immigration system, I don’t think it was ever greatly well-resourced and it’s becoming tighter and tighter.

“I don’t think under current resources that the challenge of Brexit can be met, and certainly not met smoothly.”

He added: “It’s no good thinking in two year’s time that we suddenly need 2,000 staff – the staff have to be trained.”

Mr Wood suggested it could take as long as 12 months before the impact of any attempt to increase the workforce was fully felt, given the “bureaucracy of recruiting into government”.

He said: “If you decide today ‘I want a hundred staff’, the reality is you won’t have them for at least six months.”

John Vine, a former chief inspector of borders and immigration, described the bureaucratic task facing the Government as “unprecedented” and said it would require a “considerable” increase to staffing levels.

Figures for 2016/17 show Border Force, UK Visas and Immigration, and Immigration Enforcement had 7,670, 6,467, and 4,969 full-time staff on average respectively, which were all down compared with the previous year. 

Amber RuddGETTY

Mr Wood claimed the Home Office need extra resources to strengthen the borders after Brexit

A Home Office spokesman said: “It is harder than ever before for those with no right to be here to remain in the UK. 

“Whether it is working, renting a property, opening a bank account or driving a car, we can now take tougher action on those who flout the law.

“There are no official estimates of the number of illegal immigrants living in the UK, as illegal migration is a clandestine activity and we do not recognise the one million figure suggested by David Wood.

“We expect those with no basis of stay to leave voluntarily and where they do not we will enforce their removal. 

“This includes foreign criminals of whom we returned more than 6,000 last year.”

Daily Express :: News Feed