- More than 180,000 have already been given the right to stay in the country
- Just 41,300 have been kicked out or have left voluntarily
PUBLISHED: 23:12, 19 September 2012 | UPDATED: 07:38, 20 September 2012
Border chiefs are preparing to ‘write off’ around 80,000 lost immigration and asylum cases.
The files were among nearly half a million found abandoned in boxes at the Home Office in 2006 in a major immigration scandal.
Since then officials have been working through the backlog to track them down, but are set to admit defeat and abandon around one in six cases.
More than 180,000 have already been given the right to stay in the country, in what has been described as an ‘asylum amnesty’.
Just 41,300 have been kicked out of the country or left voluntarily.
This means fewer than one in ten have been removed.
Border Agency chief executive Rob Whiteman said it was ‘not in the best interests of the taxpayer’ to continue the search.
The latest move could mean tens of thousands more in effect allowed to stay in Britain.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the MigrationWatch think tank said: ‘The present Government was left with no alternative given the utter chaos that they inherited.
‘But it is essential that nothing like this should ever be allowed to happen again. It’s the end of a very sorry saga that has been destructive to public confidence in the asylum system.’
In 2006, then Home Secretary John Reid admitted a backlog of around 450,000 immigration and asylum cases had been discovered.
It led to him describing the immigration system as ‘not fit for purpose’.
Last year the UK Border Agency declared that it had cleared the backlog which is thought to total some 500,500 files, but it was forced to admit that 100,000 cases had been left in a ‘controlled archive’ – effectively put on ice.
MPs said this archive was a ‘dumping ground for cases where the UK Border Agency has lost track of the applicant’.
A total of 180,900 individuals have been given the right to stay in Britain – many because they have been here so long illegally that they have started families.
As a result they qualify to stay under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act the right to a family life.
Around 170,000 have been written off as errors, deceased applicants or duplicates – where the case has been dealt with before.
Details of the decision to abandon the search emerged in a letter from Mr Whiteman to MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.
In it he claimed that many of the individuals will have left the UK ‘many years ago’, but there is no proof they have departed.
Officials are searching against Government and other databases for evidence that they are still here, but expect to draw a blank in around 80,000 cases, which will then be closed.
Another 25,000 remain to be processed where the migrant has been found in this country.
Mr Whiteman told MPs the backlog of cases will be cut from 90,000 to 63,000 in October and the following month to 28,000. The remaining cases will be dealt with by the end of the year.
When the scandal emerged, the Daily Mail predicted around 160,000 would be granted the right to stay here in what amounted to an amnesty.
At the time, the prediction was dismissed as ‘scaremongering’. But the figures reveal that even that prediction was too optimistic.