Less than a third of failed asylum seekers are being deported from Britain, according to new figures, the Sun reports.
Fewer than 8000, out of 27,000 who were told to leave in 2008 were removed, the figures reveal.
Meanwhile the cost of paying benefits to asylum rejects has rocketed by 1,700 percent in five years. The figures will add to fears that Labour has lost its grip on the asylum system.
Home Office figures show 26,832 “removal notices” were served on failed applicants in 2008.
But only 7,850 were removed from the country or agreed to go voluntarily.
About £73million was spent on support for asylum seekers in 2007-08, up from £4million five years earlier.
Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said:
“This is a terrible picture of a system which is still not fit for purpose.
“This is unfair to both the taxpayer and the individuals involved. Britain urgently needs significant change in this area.”
Immigration minister Phil Woolas defended Labour’s record. He said:
“The removal process is sometimes delayed by applicants who frustrate it by further legal challenges.”
He added that “difficulties in deporting people to some countries and the reluctance of some individuals to comply with documentation requirements” further hindered the process.
Many countries, such as China, refuse to take back their citizens without a passport, which can take up to a year to obtain. Migrants in these situations often conveniently lose their passports, as they are aware of the loopholes.
The Home Office are left with a choice of holding an illegal immigrant or overstayer for 12 months, which is not always possible given the resources available to detain people for long periods, or releasing them on report.
Not surprisingly many of the overstayers told to turn up at a UK Border Agency reporting centre until the authorities are ready for deport them will disappear into the system again.
After all, if they’ve managed to remain at large for a number of years, who is to say when they will get caught again?