Labour relaxes the rules to let 40,000 asylum seekers stay

08:15 by Editor · 0 Post a comment on AAWR

The Government has 'quietly' relaxed immigration rules to help clear a backlog of asylum claims, it emerged last night. 

Ministers have changed Home Office guidelines in a move which could see 40,000 previously ineligible foreigners being given indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Three years ago, Labour promised to have dealt with the growing backlog of 450,000 asylum cases clogging up the system by 2011.

But officials realised it would be virtually impossible to send many of them back as they were from countries with poor human rights records such as Zimbabwe, Somalia, Iran and China.

So in a bid to massage the official figures, ministers have changed the rules making it easier for them to stay in Britain, thus drastically reducing the backlog.

Previously officials could only grant indefinite leave to remain when a claimant had already lived in Britain for 10 to 12 years, but now they can apply after just six.

This means around 40,000 identified cases can be taken off the backlog immediately - by being granted permission to stay in Britain.

The move allows them to work legally in the country, and eventually become full citizens.

A leaked memo written by a senior official at the UK Border Agency (Ukba) suggested the change because there would be 'difficulties' in deporting them to their home countries.

It was sent to Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, and Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister, who signed it off.

Head of immigration at Ukba, Matthew Coats, called in the memo for a six-year reduction in the time a claimant had to live in Britain before immigration officials could grant indefinite leave to remain, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said it showed the rules were being relaxed for 'political expediency'.

But immigration minister Phil Woolas said the guidance was merely 'updated' to avoid drawn-out court cases.

The Home Office confirmed the changes to immigration rule 395C were made in August.

Mr Huhne said: 'The Government is prepared to quietly relax the rules in the interests of political expediency.' continues here

EDITOR'S Comment: Did we really ever believe any differently?

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