Too much 'stick' and not enough 'carrots': Government's policy on illegal immigrants criticised

Home Affairs Select Committee says fewer than one in 50 reports of illegal immigration results in a person being removed from the UK

The Government is using too much “stick” and not enough “carrots” to encourage migrants to return to their own country, MPs said in a report published today.

The Home Affairs Select Committee criticised the use of social media like Twitter to publicise immigration raids, and the now-abandoned ad vans urging illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest.” It said: “A more effective and less menacing message would be that the Government is willing and able to support those who are here illegally to return home if they want to.”

According to the report, fewer than one in 50 reports of illegal immigration results in a person being removed from the UK.

Keith Vaz, the committee’s Labour chairman, said the Government’s policy was “chaotic.”  He said: “If the Government wants to get tough on illegal immigrants it needs to take effective action. When people make allegations about those here illegally the Home Office must act. Currently only 6 in 100 reports of   illegal immigrants result in an actual investigation and only 1.5 in 100 result in removal. This is a very poor record and does not give confidence to those who go out of their way to help the Home Office.”

Mr Vaz added: “There are still over 430,000 cases languishing in the backlogs, enough to fill Wembley Stadium almost five times over. The backlogs must be cleared as a matter of priority. Only then will the Home Office be able to tackle the deeper problems in the immigration system.”

The MPs warned that plans to charge migrants about £200 to use the NHS could harm vulnerable people who have been trafficked into the country and proposed that visa applicants take out private health insurance instead. They also expressed fears that private landlords, who have been asked to check on the nationality of tenants, could hold tenants “to ransom”.

They said a proposal  to force people coming to the UK from some countries to put up “visa bonds”  of up to £3,000 had already damaged relations with “at risk” countries before it was dropped this week.

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