Silent Amnesty for Asylum Seekers

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jun/02/immigration-minister-denies-asylum-amnesty?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487)

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I have recently read the above article regarding the supposed ‘silent amnesty’ for asylum seekers who made their initial asylum claim prior to March 2007. I guess you have all read an article in the paper, or heard a story on the news about this ‘amnesty’. The media have been keen to report heavily on the matter as immigration remains a hot topic in the news, the political world and the country in general.

What bothers me about the way in which these matters are reported is that Politicians use immigration facts and statistics simply to get one up on each other, and the media jump on board to publish stories which are not entirely accurate, as they know that immigration and asylum are topics which the public, one way or another, are passionate about.

Having worked in the Immigration field for a number of years I am certainly up to date with developments in the law, and I know that there has been no ‘amnesty’ for asylum seekers, despite what the papers are saying. On review of the article in the Guardian it is contradictory. The writer speaks of an ‘amnesty’ but later states that just over 161,000 asylum seekers have been granted leave to remain. This figure makes up 40% of all claims; how can 40% be classed as an amnesty?

I am experienced in working with cases involving asylum seekers who made applications prior to March 2007, and there has been no amnesty. The UK Border Agency consider each case individually, and on the basis of the individual’s circumstances. I am aware of applicants that have been refused and, indeed, removed from the UK following an asylum application. Therefore I do disagree with the claim that there is a ‘silent amnesty’ for asylum seekers. I don’t like to think that the newspapers are giving the public the wrong impression about asylum seekers and immigrants simply to side with political parties and sell more copies.

The article also makes reference to the fact that the UK Border Agency will complete the clearing of the backlog of asylum cases by the July 2011 deadline. This has not happened. The UK Border Agency team, the Case Resolution Directorate, was set up to deal with the backlog of applications but has now closed. A new team, the Case Assurance and Audit Unit, has now been set up to deal with the remaining cases. I would therefore argue that the UK Border Agency has not met its goal of clearing the backlog of cases, and many asylum seekers, who have been waiting several years for a decision, will continue to wait.

What do you think of the hot topic of immigration? Would an amnesty be a good or a bad idea? And do you have any thoughts on the role of the media in determining the public’s opinion on immigrants in the UK.