Deporting illegal immigrants who arrive in Britain without a visa or valid passport may be costing up to £100million a year, the Daily Mail reports.
The paper claims that 4,000 foreign nationals enter the UK every 12 months despite having no right to be here.
Working on the assumption that each costs as much as £25,000 to remove, the Mail has come up with a ‘potential annual bill of £100million’.
UK officials admit however that the illegal immigrants are often allowed to stay. Many will claim asylum, which can be dealt reasonably quickly, but others can be almost impossible to remove because they do not have a passport, will not co-operate with investigator and their embassy refuses to issue a copy passport or travel document in a timely manner.
The high cost of detaining an illegal entrant without a passport and an uncooperative embassy means that many are just released on the condition that they ‘report’ regularly to a UK Border Centre.
The Chinese embassy in London can take up to a year to issue a new passport.
However the Philippine embassy can issue a travel document in a few days, so a Filipino without a passport gets removed while Chinese national are released and end up staying in the UK for years or eventually get Indefinite Leave to Remain under a human rights article eight ‘right to life’ claim.
Ministers warned that such individuals could pose a significant risk to national security.
In many cases officials will have no idea who they are, where they are from or if they have a criminal or terrorist history.
Some migrants come from countries from where it is difficult to return them because of human rights issues, including Uganda, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Details of the problem emerged as Ministers launched a crackdown on undocumented migrants.
The Government will increase fines for airlines that allow an individual on to their planes without the correct visas or document from £2,000 to up to £10,000 per migrant.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper admitted the numbers abusing the aircraft route was ‘too high’.
‘Border security is vital for the UK,’ he added. ‘While it is right that the Government is in the lead on this, carriers and the transport sector as a whole have an important role to play.
‘The proposed changes to incentives and penalties are designed to ensure all passengers arriving in the UK have the correct documentation to get through our strict passport controls.
‘If a passenger arrives in the UK without a document which satisfactorily establishes their nationality or identity, they can pose a significant risk to the UK.’
The Home Office estimates that 4,100 migrants arrived on flights and ferries to the UK without proper documents in 2011.
Some carry counterfeit or forged passports that should be spotted when they try to board the plane. Others are allowed on to planes despite having expired documents.
Some flush their passports down the toilet during the flight to try to disguise their nationality and help them claim asylum.
Fines are levied in only around half of cases, and airlines may escape paying up if the passports are a very good forgery or if they have a proven record of carrying out effective checks.
The Home Office could not say how many of those who abuse this route into the UK are successfully removed from the country.
‘They will want to undercut the wages of British workers and allow unscrupulous employers to compete unfairly with honest ones who offer decent pay and conditions.’
In 2009 the National Audit Office estimated that every failed asylum seeker costs between £3,000 and £25,000 to remove.
An ippr report a few years ago on concluded that it would cost £5 billion and take 20 years to remove half a million illegal immigrants and visa overstayers from the UK.
At first, many arrivals will be locked up in immigration detention centres, but they cannot be held behind bars indefinitely, and the courts may demand they be let out on to the streets if there is no prospect of prompt removal.
Officials suggest that the current fine – which has remained the same since the early 1990s – is now less effective at encouraging airlines to combat the practice.
Had it simply been increased to keep pace with inflation, it would be £3,500 today.
France and Germany levy fines of around £4,300 (5,000 Euros).
The consultation document suggests a £7,000 fine will be of a ‘sufficiently high level to encourage carriers to perform better document checks’. Offending airlines could face even higher penalties. The Home Office estimates a new penalty charge of £7,000 would raise £63million over ten years.
One illegal, Rashid Ali, has cost taxpayers more than £300,000 since arriving from Morocco.
The 31-year-old ripped up his passport and other identity papers on arriving in Britain in 2004.
Somerset magistrates issued a deportation order after he was convicted of theft but he was unable to leave because the Moroccan authorities would not issue him with a passport.
He has been caught repeatedly trying to leave Britain illegally stowed away on cargo ships.
He has spent much of his time in Britain in detention centres costing taxpayers more than £100 a night. Source Daily Mail.
If you are removed you will be automatically banned from returning to the UK for up to 10 years.
However, the ban does not apply if you are returning to join a spouse.
Cynthia Barker is worried that people who are detained are often intimidated by the experience and feel rushed into leaving voluntarily or are scared to seek legal advice.
“Some clients have left voluntarily when they had a right to appeal or stay in the UK, for instance because they are in a relationship and have children.
“Even overstayers can avoid removal if they have an EEA partner. In a recent case we managed to pull one of our overstaying student clients off a deportation flight ten minutes before take off because he was in a genuine relationship, and therefore a human right to a family life under article 8, with his Eastern European girlfriend.”
Cynthia advises clients to always carry contact details for their immigration adviser or lawyer, as you never know when you might need them in an emergency.
If you have been detained and need advice, you can reach Cynthia on 0208 905 1822.
If you have been arrested or detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 1, 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed, Spouse Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: