The 300,000 'missing' illegal immigrants

Last updated at 09:36 01 August 2005

The number of illegal immigrants in Britain could be 300,000 higher than the Government's estimate, a right-wing immigration think-tank has said.

Migrationwatch said a figure published by the Home Office in June was four years out of date and missed out children born in the UK to illegal parents.

The Government's estimate - the first ever published - said there were between 310,000 and 570,000 illegal immigrants in the country. But Migrationwatch said the top figure could be 870,000.

It said the estimate had been based on 2001 Census data, and had missed out record levels of immigration to the UK since then, including the 2002 peak in asylum claims.

The report estimated that between 190,000 and 218,000 could be added to the Home Office's total to allow for illegal immigration and failed asylum seekers who have not been deported since 2001.

And between 15,000 and 85,000 children of illegal immigrants should also be added to the total, the group said, concluding that the total figure should then be between 515,000 and 870,000.

Migrationwatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: "When the figures were first published a few weeks ago they rightly caused great consternation because they highlighted the extent to which the Government has, in practice, lost control of our borders.

"If they have failed to remove some three quarters of a million people who have no right to be in the UK, it is patently absurd to suggest otherwise.

"It is also clear that the government's numbers could have been calculated and made public years ago."

A Home Office spokesman said: "No government has been able to produce an accurate figure for the number of people who may be in the country illegally. By its very nature it is impossible to quantify accurately and that remains the case."

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