UK reports fewer asylum applications, more removals

The number of asylum applications to Britain last year fell to its lowest level since 1993 as removals of illegal immigrants reached record highs, according to government statistics published Tuesday.

UK reports fewer asylum applications, more removals
The number of asylum applications to Britain last year fell to its lowest level since 1993 as removals of illegal immigrants reached record highs, according to government statistics published Tuesday.

The Home Office said 23,610 foreign nationals, excluding dependents, lodged applications last year, eight percent fewer than in the previous 12 months. The 27-nation European Union overall saw a fall of 18 percent.

At the same time, 63,865 people who had no right to remain in Britain were deported -- 10 percent more than in 2005. The number of failed asylum seekers, not including their families, increased by 19 percent.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty attributed the fall in asylum applications to stronger border controls, and said more stringent measures were on the way.

They include a single border force, fingerprint checks for all visa applicants, identity cards for foreign nationals, electronic passenger screening and an Australian-style points system for selecting immigrants.

Statistics also showed that 34,825 people were refused entry at air and sea ports and then removed in 2006 -- a six percent increase.

"It is crucial that we continue to work hard to bar those from entering the United Kingdom who have no right to be here, or who present a risk to the public," McNulty said.

The downward trend in asylum applications appears to have been taken forward to this year. Figures for April to June showed a 13 percent drop from the previous quarter to 4,950.

But removals of failed asylum seekers, excluding dependants, were down seven per cent in the same period. The Home Office attributed this to its policy of deporting dangerous foreign prisoners first.

The number of would-be economic migrants from the eight former Soviet bloc countries that joined the European Union in 2004 had slowed in the first quarter of this year.

The number of Bulgarians and Romanians applying under the worker registration scheme also fell between April and June to 50,000. That compares with 52,000 in the first quarter this year and 56,000 in the same period last year.

AFP
Last Mod: 22 Ağustos 2007, 02:04
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