Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sanctuary Sanctimony

Warning: yet more on migration numbers

Asked if Britain should limit immigration, Lord Crony of Pension Grab lectured last week's Question Time viewers on our duty to grant asylum. Drawing himself up to his full moral height (about two inches), he "made no apology" for offering sanctuary to foreigners fleeing violence and oppression.

He isn't alone. It's a standard sanctimonious response from those who oppose limits on immigration. And I'm guessing most of us would want to offer shelter to the Huguenots, or the Jews fleeing the Nazis, or the Ugandan Asians fleeing Amin.

But how many of the substantial numbers of immigrants now arriving in Britain are real asylum cases? Not those who claim asylum, because obviously a claim proves nothing. No, let's look at how many of the net 2.2 million foreigners who came in over the last decade (see this blog) were genuine, in the sense of actually being granted asylum.

The answer is contained in the Home Office Bulletin on Asylum Statistics. In the ten years to 2006, a total of 645,000 people claimed asylum in the UK (including dependents). But only 75,000 were granted asylum, with a further 94,000 granted temporary leave to remain. So at most, that's an overall total of c 170,000.

Which on my reckoning means that Crony's lecture applies to well under 10% of the net 2.2 million inflow we got.

So just to recap, the two groups of immigrants we cannot limit- those from the EU and genuine asylum seekers- together comprised around 40% of the net inflow of foreigners over the last decade. The other 60% we could have limited.

PS I know what you're thinking. If there were 645,000 asylum seekers, and only 170,000 got asylum or temporary leave to remain, what happened to the other 475,000? Well, according to the Home Office, 106,000 were either deported or left of their own accord. Which means 370,000 are whereabouts unknown. Well, they probably went home too, right?

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