The Home Office have said they don’t know where 17,000 people whose asylum claims have been withdrawn are residing, admitting that they are essentially lost within the immigration and asylum system.
Speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee this week, Home Office secretary Simon Ridley said the department has ‘no clue’ as to their location.
Conservative MP Tim Loughton brought up the withdrawal of 17,316 asylum claims from the beginning of the year to September 2023, and asked whether the Home Office knew where these ex-claimants were, to which Ridley responded: ‘I don’t think we know where those people are, no.’
When Ridley responded that they would ‘write to the committee with those numbers,’ Lee Anderson, the senior Conservative MP who posed the question, stated that it was ‘staggering’ that the ‘big boss hasn’t got a clue.’
The meeting began with intense questioning on whether the government in Kigali, Rwanda had received more than the £140m previously given to them to house and process deported asylum seekers. Rycroft stated that ministers had decided to release updated figures in the ‘the next annual report […] rather than giving a running commentary.’
Dame Johnson argued that this response made it difficult to ‘effectively scrutinise’ the amount being spent on the Home Office’s ‘flagship policy.’
This comes just hours after labour leader Kier Starmer used the Prime Minister’s questions to claim that Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, had ‘lost control of the borders’ and that the government was at risk of an ‘open revolt.’
Comments were also made about the PM’s new treaty with Rwanda. Rycroft told MPs that officials were in the capital, Kigali, ‘as we speak’ and putting the ‘finishing touches’ to a new deportation policy, after the Supreme Court ruled against the original plan to relocate some asylum seekers to the country.
The ruling undermined Sunak’s pledge to ‘stop the boats,’ claiming that the proposed scheme would deter asylum seekers from coming to the UK in small boats travelling across the Channel, a plan that refugee charities say would not have worked anyway.