Skip to comments.10,000 Asylum Seekers Allowed To Disappear
Posted on 08/10/2002 5:55:32 PM PDT by blam
10,000 asylum seekers allowed to disappear
By David Bamber, Home Affairs Correspondent
More than 10,000 asylum seekers who were sent to a detention centre set up to deport unfounded claimants have been sent back into the community despite having their applications rejected.
When the Oakington centre in Cambridgeshire opened two years ago, ministers hailed it as the solution to the asylum crisis and promised that it would "fast-track" 13,000 asylum seekers each year, assessing claims within seven days and deporting those rejected.
Last night, however, the Home Office said that although it was assessing initial asylum applications as promised, it was unable to deport those rejected because they were entitled to appeal. Immigrants were being released while the lengthy appeal process was under way because Oakington, which has room for only 400, could not hold them all.
Official figures show that only 12,152 refugees had been processed in the centre's first 22 months, to the end of December last year. Of these, 10,075 were refused the right to stay here.
All had been released to other addresses. Only a few of the remaining 2,077 applicants processed have been deported. Almost 1,000 of the 2,077 were moved from Oakington to other centres or private addresses before a decision on their case was taken and 90 more were granted asylum.
The Home Office said that it did not have statistics on how many of the remaining claimants had been sent back or allowed to stay. Officials from the Immigration Service Union said, however, that the majority were granted asylum.
Oliver Letwin, the shadow home secretary, said: "These figures call into question the entire raison d'etre of Oakington. It was meant to fast-track asylum seekers' claims. Instead it is fast-tracking people straight into the community.
"The Government's pledge to have decisions within seven days is clearly not being met. What is the point of Oakington if people are just sent there for a few weeks and then released? We might as well save the money."
Oakington, a former Army barracks, was transformed into an asylum reception centre at a cost of £4.5 million. It can hold up to 400 at a time. Officials choose refugees to be sent there if they are thought likely to abscond or if their case is believed to be simple to assess.
When the centre opened in March 2000, Barbara Roche, who was then the Home Office immigration minister, said: "Oakington will enable us quickly to deal with straightforward asylum claims.
"It is in everyone's interest that both genuine and unfounded asylum seekers are quickly identified. Genuine asylum seekers can be given the support they need to integrate quickly into society. Those with unfounded claims can be sent home quickly, thereby sending a strong signal to others thinking of trying to exploit our system."
John Tincey, a spokesman for the Immigration Service Union, said: "When asylum seekers are sent there they know that if they appeal against a decision to send them home they will be allowed out. It's a crazy system."
All those released from Oakington are meant to report to the Immigration Nationality Directorate at least once a month and notify them of changes of addresses. In practice, however, little is done to track them down because there are more than 250,000 asylum seekers in Britain.
One lawyer, who works in the immigration sphere, said: "It happens all the time that asylum seekers who have been released from Oakington just disappear. Last week a girl who was my client was due in court, but she had disappeared."
A Home Office spokesman said: "We do recognise that people are allowed to stay too long while the lengthy appeals system is gone through.
"For this reason we have tabled amendments in the new immigration Bill to streamline the appeals process. The number of refugees released from Oakington, however, will call into question the Government's decision to build another eight similar reception centres in rural areas.
Sounds like the Brits have there own version of our infamous 14th Amendment.
If this is the system that the UN and individual nations have signed up to, it should be applied to the letter.
Of course the complaints from human rights groups are flooding in and the U.N. is critical. But the Aussie's are within their rights, the only real pressure theyre under is from the emotional argument. But, Prime Minister Howard is standing his ground, to the dismay of those who feel they are morally superior.
Now the illegal immigrants are heading for New Zealand instead, by some accounts at least. NZ has often been seen as the back door to Australia, so Australia is tightening NZ immigration to Aussie. We should learn from these guys.
They are the SANE ones.