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Labour: Immigration problem 'worse on May's watch'

Problems with immigration have got "worse not better" on Theresa May's watch, the Shadow Home Secretary insisted today as reforms to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) were announced.

Yvette Cooper told MPs that while the agency had long suffered problems, the Home Office was making things worse with Mrs May in charge.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper. Credit: PA Wire

She claimed today's announcement had been rushed to the Commons by the Home Secretary in the wake of yesterday's damning report by the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Mrs May disagreed with her comments, saying the Home Office under her leadership was, on the contrary, fixing problems created in border security at the agency's inception by Labour.

The Commons row followed Mrs May's announcement that UKBA was to be divided into two new entities, both of which would be brought inside the Home Office instead of being run at arm's length.

'Troubled' UK Border Agency to be split in two

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) will be split into two in a bid to tackle a spiralling backlog of asylum and immigration cases, the Home Secretary has announced.

The UKBA is to be divided into an immigration and visa service and an immigration law enforcement organisation in the wake of a series of damning reports and inspections.

File photo of a UK Border Agent with a passport.
The UK Border Agency will be split in two, Home Secretary Theresa May announced. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Theresa May said the UKBA in its current form "struggles with the volume of its casework" and has been "a troubled organisation" since it was formed.

May told the House of Commons, "The Agency has been a troubled organisation since it was formed in 2008 and its performance is not good enough".

"In truth the Agency was not set up to absorb the level of mass immigration that we saw under the last Government", she continued. "This meant the Agency has never had the space to modernise its structures and systems and get on top of its workload".

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Immigration 'chaos' taking years to recover

It has been revealed that the number of migrant applicants is growing at a rate of 700 a month, with around 14,000 already refused the right to stay in the UK.

With 16,000 migrants currently waiting to hear if they can stay in the UK, campaigners Migration Watch UK have branded the backlog as 'chaos'.

This is yet further evidence of the chaos in the immigration system from which they are taking years to recover.

– Sir Andrew Green, chairman of campaigners Migration Watch UK

UK border control is 'failing to check' applications

An investigation into UK border control has found that 16,000 migrants are currently waiting to hear whether they can stay in Britain.

  • 2,100 cases were yet to receive an initial decision as to whether they could stay in the UK or not, some dating back to 2003
  • 180 of these applicants wanted to stay for marriage or civil partnership reasons
  • The UK Border Agency is failing to check whether applicants earn enough to live without state handouts
  • Staff are not consistently applying the "income support threshold" rule to applicants who want to stay in the UK due to marriage
  • The percentage of allowed marriage appeals in total was too high at over 50 per cent April 2011 and February 2012
  • Problems with the agency failing to take into account the rights of children when refusing further leave in the UK were also discovered

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'This situation causes anxiety, uncertainty and frustration'

Sixteen thousand migrants are currently waiting to hear whether they can remain in the UK, according to an independent investigation into UK border controls.

This situation causes anxiety, uncertainty and frustration for those individuals and their family members.

Delays in deciding applications also mean that enforcement action is likely to be more difficult in the event that the case is ultimately refused.

This is because the individual will have been in the UK for a number of years and may have developed a family or private life.

– John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector for Borders and Immigration

Immigration inspectors find backlog of 16,000 migrants

An investigation into UK border controls has revealed that more than 16,000 immigrants are waiting to hear whether they can stay in Britain.

The number of applicants is growing at a rate of 700 a month, with around 14,000 already refused the right to stay.

Some people have been waiting 'considerable periods of time' for cases to be resolved Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Independent Chief Inspector for Borders and Immigration John Vine discovered the backlogs as part of an inquiry into applications to remain in Britain on the basis of marriage.

Mr Vine said: "We are concerned that this backlog of cases has been allowed to develop. As a result, some applicants have been waiting for considerable periods of time for their cases to be resolved."

Thirty-one stowaways found in lorries at Port of Calais

UK Border Control search a lorry trailer for stowaway passengers at Calais Ferry Port in France. Picture date: Monday June 6, 2011.
UK Border Control search a lorry trailer for stowaway passengers at Calais Ferry Port in France. Picture date: Monday June 6, 2011. Credit: PA

Thirty-one stowaways had their hopes of entering the UK shattered after border officials found them hidden inside four UK-bound lorries at the Port of Calais.

A sniffer dog indicated there were people inside a Peterborough-bound Turkish-registered lorry and 12 Albanians were found among the cargo.

Officers using heartbeat monitors also discovered six Afghans hidden in a Polish-registered vehicle which was heading to Accrington, Lancashire, with its load of sofas.

A detector dog also led officers to find six Albanians hidden among nappies on a Czech-registered lorry bound for Lincolnshire.

The fourth discovery was in an Irish-registered lorry heading to the Republic of Ireland. A dog led officers to find seven people on board - three from Iran, two from Pakistan, one from Afghanistan and a Syrian.

All the stowaways were handed over to French border police.

Home Office vows to transform UKBA

We have known for some time that UKBA is a troubled organisation with a poor record of delivery.

Turning the agency around will take time, but we are making progress. The Border Force is now an independent organisation and its performance is improving.

And UKBA has a transformation plan that will put the agency on a surer footing.

A new performance and compliance unit has been created to provide assurance that information and data that is routinely published by the agency is robust and reliable.

The Home Secretary will invite John Vine as part of his future inspection plan to inspect the audit and assurance mechanisms of the agency.

– A Home Office spokesman
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