Auhtor: Andrew Gregory
The number of illegal immigrants in Britain is soaring by 70,000 a year, a shock report warns today.
Migration Watch UK said its analysis points to a gross annual addition of nearly 105,000 visa overstayers, clandestine arrivals and failed asylum seekers.
Taking into account an average of just over 35,000 departures a year, this works out at a net growth of nearly 70,000, according to the campaign body.
It described the scale of illegal immigration as a “scandal”.
And it called for measures including the rollout of ID cards.
But the Home Office said it did not “recognise” the figure, saying it is not possible to estimate the size of the illegal population “with any confidence”.
Migration Watch, which campaigns for tighter immigration controls, says its calculations suggest the gross increase in the illegal immigrant population stands at around 104,950 per year.
It claims the figure comprises an estimated 83,600 potential over-stayers, 12,850 people detected illicitly arriving in the back of trucks and 8,500 failed asylum seekers who do not leave the country.
The report says: “To come to a net figure, we need to subtract annual removals / departures of 35,200 per year for the period 2009-2017.
“This means a net addition in the illegal population, not accounting for regularisation of those with no right to be here, of 69,750 per year.”
The paper acknowledges that this figure is a “rough estimate” that “depends upon a range of assumptions”.
Migration Watch chairman Lord Green of Deddington said: “The scale of illegal immigration to Britain is a scandal that has gone on for too long.
“It undermines public acceptance of genuine refugees and is damaging to community relations generally.”
It is the latest attempt to put a figure on how many people enter the country unlawfully, or stay without valid leave.
In 2005, a Home Office assessment put the total unauthorised migrant population living in the UK in 2001 at an estimated 430,000.
Last year a former immigration enforcement chief claimed the figure was likely to run to more than a million.
But official statisticians insist it is not possible to accurately quantify the number of overseas nationals in the UK illegally.
In January, a Commons report warned that anxiety about the issue has been allowed to “grow unchecked” because of a shortage of official information.
Migration Watch made a number of recommendations in its report, including a £100 million boost to immigration enforcement, a “major increase” in the size of the detention estate, and the introduction of ID cards.
It also claimed that “attempts to “weaponise” the Windrush issue in order to destroy sensible border controls should be firmly rejected.
The Windrush scandal prompted widespread criticism of the so-called “hostile environment” crackdown after long-term UK residents were wrongly removed or detained despite being in the country legally.
Migration Watch said the debacle revealed “serious oversights” and it is essential to ensure redress for those unjustly affected.
It is “equally vital” to pursue efforts to “restore the credibility of immigration control”, according to the report, which will be published on Thursday.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We do not recognise the estimate provided by Migration Watch UK.
“By its very nature, it is not possible to estimate with any confidence the size of the illegal population.
“We are committed to reducing the size of the illegal population. When someone has no leave to remain in the UK, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily.
“Where they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure. This includes foreign criminals of whom we have returned more than 44,500 since 2010.”