UK's immigration backlog 'solved' by relaxing rules
A memo leaked to the British media reveals that Home Office officials relaxed immigration rules retrospectively to allow an estimated 40,000 illegal immigrants to remain in the country. Over the last few years, Britain has amassed a backlog of an estimated 450,000 undealt-with cases which ministers had promised to deal with by 2011. Faced by the scale of the problem, poor record keeping and huge delays of over 4 years in some cases, the Government have quietly decided that 40,000 of them will be 'too difficult' to remove.
In another revelation, which is sure to fan the flames around this highly contentious subject, the Home Office memo also shows how tens of thousands of immigrants have been 'lost' in the system - their whereabouts unknown.
The memo states:
"40,000 of the cases... could not be granted indefinite leave to remain under he current parameters of the operational guidance... but which we will almost certainly not be able to conclude through removal."
This admission of defeat in the face of the scale of the problem is likely to heighten public anger on the subject of immigration in the UK yet again. Despite an ever more stringent stringent UK visa system on the face of things, there is much suspicion that official figures and measures such as tighter controls are merely serving to mask the problem. The far-right BNP are already making hay with the revelation as part of their racist, anti-immigration stance (the comments thread below the story reveals the BNP membership for what it is).
In way, this shows the cleft-stick that the government has made for itself. By talking tough on immigration in public it has moved uncomfortably close to the likes of the BNP in terms of rhetoric, giving the BNP a claim to legitimacy it doesn't deserve. Simultaneously, they have failed to deal with the problem - which not only opens them to charges of hypocrisy but puts a genuine strain on police, border agencies and local services.
I believe that the government is actually in favour of immigration as a way to boost Britain's talent base and to attract inward investment. I also believe that they lack both the moral fibre to make their case persuasively in the teeth of anti-immigrant feeling and the steel necessary to deal with the problem of illegal immigration that they have allowed to develop on their watch.