The Home Secretary has admitted there could be as many as one million illegal migrants in the UK, but doesn’t know for sure either way.
Critics say the admission from Amber Rudd, who is responsible for immigration and the UK’s borders, shows the government is not in control of immigration and is more concerned with forcing people to pay their TV licences than deportations.
Ms. Rudd was being questioned by David Wood, a former Director General of Immigration Enforcement, who claimed there are “probably over a million foreigners here illegally” and “no one could ever remove them really”.
According to The Mirror, she said the estimate of a million “may be” a “sensible judgement”, adding: “But we need to deal in facts, and there aren’t facts to back that up unless he gave you some which we don’t know about.”
It was suggested she could neither confirm nor deny the million figure because she did not know, and Ms. Rudd replied: “I think that’s correct, yes.”
An official said there were too few staff for the number of migrants https://t.co/kf1R2ezmUa
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 20, 2017
Tory MP Christopher Chope blasted: “So he may well be right.” Ms. Rudd replied back: “Or wrong!” Home Office Permanent Secretary Philip Rutnam added: “It’s not something we have an estimate of.”
Mr. Chope reentered the exchange, describing the Tory target of removing 35,000 people from Britain as a “drop in the ocean”.
He claimed: “Why is it the government’s view that TV licence evasion is more serious and needs more deterrents than illegal migration?”
The government has kept its estimates of illegal immigrant numbers secret since 2005, but in a paper for Civitas published in June, Mr. Wood revealed the department estimates that, annually, up to 250,000 foreign nationals who are supposed to return to their home countries fail to do so.
In addition to visa overstayers – a category which includes students and others – the figure includes bogus asylum seekers, of which there were around 26,000 last year, and migrants who break into Britain riding in the back of trucks.
In April, Breitbart London reported that deportations of failed asylum seekers had hit a record low.