U.K. Government Says Asylum Claims Fall To 13-Year Low

U.K. Government Says Asylum Claims Fall to 13-Year Low

By Gonzalo Vina
The Bloomberg, November 21, 2006

Claims for asylum in the U.K. fell 7 percent in the three months through September to their lowest since 1993, the government said.

Applications for asylum dropped to 5,850 from 6,320 in the same period a year earlier, the Home Office said today in a statement. The number of people deported from the U.K. because their claims were rejected fell 26 percent to 3,295.

“This government is determined to continue the progress made on asylum,'' Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said today in a statement released by his office in London. “There is still more to do.''

Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, responding to concern that immigration is straining public services and depressing wages, has pledged to restrict the flow of workers from Bulgaria and Romania when those nations join the European Union in January. The arrival of 400,000 Eastern Europeans since 2004 has driven unemployment in the U.K. to its highest in almost five years.

The Home Office said it deported more than a 1,000 foreign prisoners between April and October. Charles Clarke was fired as Home Secretary in May after he admitted that his department had freed 1,023 foreign prisoners who should have been considered for deportation.

The figures are based on Home Office immigration data and the government's survey of passengers arriving and departing from ports and airports. They showed net inward migration from the 10 countries that joined to the EU in 2004 rose to 64,000 in 2005 from 49,000 in 2004.

Three-quarters of British voters want tougher immigration controls while 23 percent want the rules relaxed or maintained, according to a survey of 975 adults conducted by Ipsos Mori Ltd. on Aug. 13.