Why is the person still in the UK? by Greg Hands MP

I have blogged elsewhere about having one of the very highest levels of immigration casework of any MP in Britain and some of the effects of our chaotic immigration administration, its impact on our society and on the applicants themselves, like HERE http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2008/05/is-our-immigrat.html HERE http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/greg_hands_mp/index.html and HERE http://www.order-order.com/2007/11/security-confusion.html . I have also highlighted cases where our authorities have been needlessly severe on people who are here quite legitimately, like the case of the Bulgarian banker just a few months before that country’s accession to the EU, which I mentioned in the Commons HERE http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080116/debtext/80116-0009.htm#080116103002426

Very often a case comes across my desk where one can’t help but ask – why is this man in the UK? This letter (ATTACHED) reached me a few weeks ago. I have deleted the man’s name and address, but hopefully one can still follow the line of argumentation from the Home Office. The man concerned is not an unusual case in its description, but the magnitude of asylum applications and appeals is certainly extreme. Amazingly, this man had SEVEN asylum applications or appeals dismissed over a two and a half year period, 1999 – 2001. Twice, it was deemed that “his appeal rights were exhausted”.

Surely, he should have been deported, any reasonable observer would ask? But no, two years after the second time that his appeal rights were “exhausted”, and five years after his arrival in the UK, this man was given leave to remain for three years on “compassionate grounds”. Now, I don’t know what the specific compassionate grounds were in this case, but typically they might be that the man had gotten married and/or had children. The children might well have reached the age of full-time education. I don’t blame the individual concerned. Most failed asylum seekers were or are in their 20s, and it’s almost inevitable that many would settle down as their various applications and appeals are considered. That should increase the onus on the Home Office to determine their cases more quickly.

Under Labour, this hasn’t happened. In fact, there are today around 450,000 “legacy” asylum cases in the UK still unresolved. That’s a lot of people in a country of 60-odd million people. The backlog is being worked off rather slowly, so the incoming Conservative government will be faced with a huge problem – how many of these cases do we seek to deport, and what do we do with the thousands who have now settled here with families? There will be some tough policy choices for a new Conservative Home Secretary.

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