Amber Rudd challenged over claim Home Office has no illegal migrant 'removal target'
Amber Rudd’s claim that there is no target in place for the removal of illegal migrants has sparked confusion after it was refuted by the leader of Britain’s immigration workers union.
The Home Secretary told MPs that hitting a total number of people to be deported from the UK was not how the department operates.
The clash comes amid growing pressure on Ms Rudd, as she was forced to answer to MPs over the Windrush scandal, which has seen the status Caribbean migrants who arrived in Britain decades ago put under scrutiny over a lack of documents.
However the General Secretary of the ISU union - which represents those working in borders, immigration and customs - claimed to be “bemused” at that admission, saying that there was a target set at over 8,000 last year.
“Net removal targets certainly do exist, and I'm somewhat bemused as to why the Home Secretary would say they do not exist,” Lucy Moreton told Sky News.
Ms Moreton, who appeared in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee before Ms Rudd, later told the channel: “It’s inevitable that the Home Secretary will not know the details of every single small piece of targeting, but nonetheless there are targets for removals: last year’s target was 8,337 nationally.”
“That’s the target for immigration enforcement and that includes those who depart voluntarily, those who are detected and those are removed.”
But when Ms Moreton's claim, which she earlier told the committee, was levelled at Ms Rudd by committee chair Yvette Cooper, she responded saying: “We don’t have targets for removals.”
“I didn’t hear the testimony and I’m not sure what shape that might be in, but if you ask me 'are there numbers of people we expect to be removed?', that’s not how we operate."
Glynn Williams, the Home Office’s director general responsible for border, immigration and citizenship, who appeared alongside Ms Rudd responded to the same question: “Not as far as I know.”
The lack of knowledge of apparent regional targets for net removals prompted chair Yvette Cooper to suggest Ms Rudd may have a “lack of grip” on the system.
Ms Rudd also denied that the Government’s target to bring migration down to the hundreds of thousands had fuelled the problem.
“I don’t think that’s got anything to do with it. It’s wrong to think the net migration target is the problem here. The problem here is that people were not properly documented,” she said.
Elsewhere, the Home Secretary told MPs she regretted that she had not known of the problems facing the Windrush generation earlier, but that she had become aware “over the past few months”.
“I bitterly, deeply regret that I didn’t see it as more than individual cases gone wrong that needed addressing. I didn’t see it as a systemic issue until very recently,” she added.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe