Leading article: An amnesty would be sensible

Share
Related Topics

A report from the Commons Home Affairs select committee suggests that there has been a "silent amnesty" to reduce the backlog of cases of refugees whose status has been left unresolved for years. Since 2006, when the Labour Home Secretary John Reid declared that the UK Border Agency was "not fit for purpose" that much maligned organisation has been working its way through 450,000 unresolved cases.

Just over 161,000 were told they could stay, 38,000 were deported, and 129,000 cases were classed as "errors". The statistic that drew the greatest condemnation from MPs is that 74,500 cases remained on file because officials do not where the people involved are. They may be in the UK, or they may have left, or died. The figure of 161,000 was considered by the MPs to be so high that it amounted to an amnesty, even if that word was never uttered by those responsible.

The supposed reason for avoiding the word is that it would be an invitation to people all over the world to flood into the UK, as if people suffering persecution from the world's nastier dictatorships are assiduous of the words used by Home Office ministers. The true reason is that it would take a very bold politician to risk the outcry that the anti-immigrant lobby would whip up at the first sign of softening of immigration rules.

But if there was a "silent amnesty" it was a sensible way to get out of the hole created by near breakdown of the Border Agency. It was not the fault of people who fled from persecution to the UK and who have waited for years to have their position clarified, that the agency was "not fit for purpose".

If the Government is to have an effective policy it must have an effective agency to carry it out. But like so many other public bodies, the Border Agency has been targeted in the treasury's relentless search for savings. It has not had a permanent head since the last chief executive changed jobs five months ago. Last November, it was announced that the agency's staff is to be cut by 5,000, out of 24,000 during this Parliament. This begs the answer whether the slimmed down agency will be "fit for purpose" four years hence.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn