Thousands of illegal immigrants could be granted an amnesty to stay in the UK to clear a massive backlog of cases, MPs fear.
The number of outstanding immigration and asylum cases rose by 25,000 in three months and is "spiralling out of control".
Border Agency (UKBA) caseload is now equivalent to the population of
Iceland, said Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee.
than 300,000 cases needed to be dealt with at the end of June, up 9%
over the previous three months, a committee report indicated.
Border 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 denied permission to stay in the UK but
whose whereabouts are unknown.
The outstanding cases also included 95,000 in the so-called controlled archives.
Immigration minister Mark Harper agrees the report 'raises concerns'
These are effectively the backlog of immigration and asylum cases, which the UKBA has pledged to close by the end of the year.
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, the report said.
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.
many of the people in the backlog of cases will have already left the
country, "we are not convinced that the agency's limited checking regime
will have picked up all of the applicants who remain in the country",
the MPs went on.
"For this reason we are concerned that the final
checks made on these cases should be thorough and that they should not
be rushed to meet an artificial deadline."
The report also
questioned the consequences for both the individual and the taxpayer if
applicants whose cases are closed are then found in the UK.
Vaz added: "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."
Immigration Minister Mark Harper
said: "This report raises some legitimate concerns but we are taking
robust action and it is working."