A document calling for fairer asylum procedures will be submitted to Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, within the next few days by the Asylum Rights Campaign, an umbrella organisation. The group wants the rules changed so that families are not broken up.
But a Home Office spokesman said last night that ministers wanted to take a tough approach towards illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers who remained in this country without permission.
The spokesman said: "The government is going to exercise a firm policy on persons who have no right to be here."
Figures published by the government last week showed that although the number of deportation orders more than doubled during the last Parliament from 900 in 1992 to 1,900 in 1996, enforcements actually dropped from 2,600 to 1,900.
The number of people who are currently facing deportation runs into tens of thousands. Although the Home Office could not confirm the exact numbers, its spokesman said that 20,900 illegal immigrants were caught last year.
In addition, 28,000 people had applied for asylum in 1996 but the proportion being refused was running at around 80 per cent.
The government has already abolished two measures introduced by the Tories to tighten up immigration procedures. The primary purpose rule, designed to stop couples marrying solely so that one of them can enter the country, ceased to operate earlier this month and measures which forced some asylum- seekers to leave the country to appeal against decisions have also been stopped.
Claude Moraes, director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: "Illegal immigration is a genuine problem both with people who arrive here clandestinely and with over-stayers, and there needs to be a strategic approach which looks at family unity and asylum procedure."Reuse content