08 April 2013

Ex-UKBA chief admits UK immigration chaos

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Former head of the UK Border Agency Tony Smith has said the UK immigration system 'never recovered' from influxes of immigrants and asylum seekers at the beginning of the last decade.

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Former UKBA chief Tony Smith said UK immigration enforcement 'never recovered' from high rates at the start of the last decade.

The Home Secretary Theresa last month announced the splitting of the UKBA, the second split in little over a year, after the emergence of several large blunders, including thousands of UK visa applications found discarded in boxes.

Mrs May said the UK immigration system would come back under ministerial control with two separate offices dedicated to process visa applications and enforcing immigration policy.

Despite the agency's many failings, the home secretary's announcement came as somewhat of a surprise although Mr Smith said the problems were severe enough to justify the agency's dissolution.

"The immigration process has been a very trick journey," he said, explaining that a large part of the problem was people entering the country, discarding their passports and assuming new identities.

"That's one of the big problems. We just don't know who's here and who isn't."

Mr Smith said between 2000 and 2003, there were '100,000 asylum seekers arriving a year - people camping on the beaches in Dover'.

"There was a huge influx and frankly I don't think we have ever recovered from that.

"It's quite hard when people come into the country in large numbers. There's little you can other than take their details and pass them on."

Mr Smith retired from his position last month but said the Government's recent changes would leave the system 'in pretty good shape'.


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