UK Home Office admits to losing 5,600 migrants who had asylum claims withdrawn in last year

FILE - Migrants successfully cross the English Channel to reach the U.K. from the European mainland.
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

The U.K. Home Office has admitted it is urgently seeking to reconnect with thousands of asylum seekers whose whereabouts in the country are unknown after they voluntarily withdrew or were withdrawn from the asylum process.

In a letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee dated Jan. 12, Home Office ministers Tom Pursglove and Michael Tomlinson refuted a claim in November last year that the department had lost more than 17,000 migrants who had recently arrived in Britain and dispersed throughout the country.

“It is erroneous to say that the Home Office has lost the 17,316 cases that have been withdrawn over the 12 months to Sept. 30, 2023,” the letter wrote.

In a breakdown provided of the circumstances surrounding the withdrawn asylum cases, the ministers revealed that 3,144 of the individuals had left the U.K. and thus had no reason to continue to claim asylum.

The remaining 82 percent of the cases are still in Britain, the department acknowledged but claimed that in 50 percent of all cases where an asylum claim had been withdrawn and contact lost, the Home Office had re-engaged with the applicant and their cases were now being processed.

However, it admitted that in 5,998 cases — or 32 percent of all withdrawn claims in the corresponding twelve-month period — the Home Office had no idea of the whereabouts of the former applicants.

They “remain in the U.K. and the Home Office is taking steps to urgently re-establish contact with them,” the letter read.

“When we withdraw a claim, and if someone has no other permission to stay in the U.K., funding and support stops and someone becomes liable for law enforcement activity to be removed from the U.K.,” the ministers explained.

“If these individuals were to make further submissions, caseworkers may consider whether
their previous actions are damaging to their credibility,” they added.

The letter also made the damning revelation that of the tens of thousands of illegal migrants who arrived in small boats across the English Channel last year, only a small fraction had been returned.

The government reported earlier this month that irregular Channel crossings in small boats totaled 29,437 last year and 45,774 in 2022. However, last year the Home Office only returned a total of 1,850 migrants back to France or their respective countries of origin — a little over 6 percent of last year’s total arrivals.

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