THE number of outstanding immigration and asylum cases rose by 25,000 in three months and is “spiralling out of control”, making the total caseload the equivalent of the population of Iceland, an MP has said.
More than 300,000 cases needed to be dealt with at the end of June, up 9% over the previous three months, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said.
But clearing the backlog should not be a rushed job done without the proper checks, the committee’s report on the UK Border Agency (UKBA) warned.
Keith Vaz, the committee’s chairman, said: “There are now about the same number of cases awaiting resolution by UKBA as there are people living in Iceland. The backlog is spiralling out of control.”
The troubled agency had 302,064 cases to investigate, trace or conclude by the end of June – more than 25,000 compared with the end of March.
Most of the increase came from a rise of more than 24,000 missing migrants who have been refused permission to stay in the UK but whose whereabouts are unknown, referred to as the migration refusal pool.
The outstanding cases also included the 95,000 in the controlled archives, effectively the backlog of immigration and asylum cases, which the UKBA has pledged to close by the end of the year.
But to do this it will have to assess all these cases in three months when only 29,000 were removed from the archive in a year.
“We are concerned that the closure of the controlled archives may result in a significant number of people being granted effective amnesty in the United Kingdom, irrespective of the merits of their case,” the MPs said.
Mr Vaz added:“They need to get a grip. Entering the world of the UKBA is like falling through the looking glass.’’