THOUSANDS of illegal immigrants could be “fiddling” the system by claiming asylum only after being threatened with deportation.
Almost 20,000 foreigners have been allowed to stay in the last six years after claiming that deportation would breach their human rights.
The fact that they claimed asylum only after being detected has called into question the legitimacy of their claims and there are now calls for the Home Office to investigate.
Labour MP Frank Field – who has called for a crackdown on immigration – uncovered the figures.
He found that since 2008 a total of 66,569 foreigners claimed asylum after detection.
Of those 19,066 – or nearly one in three – were actually successful. The others had their return home delayed, often by years, by using the tactic.
The former welfare reform minister told the Sun: “It is an obvious fiddle that I am sure the Home Secretary will want to look at.
“You are either here for one reason or the other. You can’t be both.”
He added: “If people want to claim asylum, they should claim it straight away.”
According to Government figures, each person living in the UK illegally costs taxpayers £4,250.
That figure is based on the costs incurred by public services such as the NHS and education.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of campaign group MigrationWatch UK, added: “If someone doesn’t claim asylum until they are detected, you wonder how strong their case really is.”
The shocking figures come ahead of new immigration figures which will be released on Thursday.
The last set of statistics showed net migration had risen to 176,000 in the year ending December 2012 – up from 153,000 people in the year to September 2012.
The Government said failing to claim asylum at the earliest opportunity is taken into account when assessing a claim, but some may have a genuine fear of prosecution.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and applications are carefully considered before a decision is made.
“We expect individuals who require our protection to apply for asylum as soon as possible and believe that those who fail to establish a genuine fear of persecution should return home. If they do not, we will enforce their removal.
“Our changes to the asylum system have already seen cases resolved more quickly and have led to fewer appeals. We have reduced asylum support costs by approximately £260 million since 2009/10.”
See on www.express.co.uk