'We're fed up with the cold weather and the NHS,' say asylum seekers trying to break OUT of Britain
By JAMES SLACK
3rd May 2008
Illegal immigrants are leaving the country in search of warmer weather and better health care (file picture)
Failed asylum seekers are sneaking out of Britain – because they are fed up with the poor healthcare and bad weather.
Scores have been caught trying to break past border controls in recent weeks, according to immigration staff.
The majority of those who have been found are from Afghanistan and Iraq, said Les Williams, a chief immigration officer for the UK Border Agency.
He said: “One thing we have noticed recently is people trying to leave the country.
“We cannot explain exactly why they are trying to go, but when some of these people were questioned they said they wanted to go to a warmer country as they are fed up with the English weather and fed up with their treatment on the NHS.”
Many of the illegals told him they planned to head for Italy after hearing rumours that the government would introduce an amnesty for
asylum seekers, he said in the interview with Police Review magazine.
Mr Williams said: “Italy was mentioned as a destination on several occasions.”
A second immigration insider said he had stopped a group of four Iraqis trying to sneak out of the port of Dover.
He said: “There has been a big rise in the number of illegals we are catching sneaking out of the country.”
“A group of four men from Iraq I stopped recently said they were sick of the rain and the cold and just wanted to get home or go to somewhere with a bit more sun.
“They also complained that they couldn't get appointments to see a doctor or a dentist. It's all a bit rich really.”
When caught trying to breach the borders, fugitives cannot simply be let go. This because the Home Office needs to establish whether they are wanted criminals.
A spokesman for the Home Office added that they took any attempt to evade border control seriously, and were implementing “a hi-tech system for counting people in and out of the country”.
However, as critics point out, those who are found not to be criminals must have costly deportation proceedings begun against them.
Mark Wallace, campaign director for the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: “At a time when police are overstretched and taxpayers are paying far too much we are spending millions stopping these people leaving the country.
“It is lunacy and makes us even more of a laughing stock.”
Others claim failed asylum seekers leaving voluntarily is probably the best hope the Home Office has of clearing a backlog of 285,000 cases.
Asylum removals have slumped over the past year, as officials instead concentrate on removing foreign national criminals.
The number of failed asylum seekers and their dependants removed fell last year by more than a quarter.
There were 13,595 removed in 2007, compared with more than 18,000 the previous year. At that rate, even with no new arrivals, it would take 21 years to clear the backlog.
Tory immigration spokesman Damian Green said: “Surely even this Government can't be trying to solve the immigration crisis by making Britain increasingly impossible to live in.
“Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry.”
Mr Williams was speaking ahead of a cross-Channel intelligence conference on crime, people smuggling and counter-terrorism.
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