Deportation letters issued by the Department of Justice look set to rise sharply this year, The Irish Times reports.
The department issued “intention to deport” letters to 1,451 people residing in Ireland in the first five months of this year. This compares to last year, when 1,752 letters were issued in total.
Of the letters sent so far this year, 409 were issued to people in the asylum system.
A department spokesman explained that an intention to deport letter “is the the start of a process whereby detailed consideration is given to each case. A decision is made at the end of this process either to make a deportation order or grant permission to remain.”
People may be granted “permission to remain” in the State for a variety of reasons.
Figures show that 101 people were allowed to remain, compared to a total of 532 in 2016.
Lucky Khambule from Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (Masi) described the trend as “alarming”.
He said changes brought in by the International Protection Act 2015 had led to the increase since it has given the State more powers to enforce deportation orders.
Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin, a Labour Senator (pictured), said the department is reluctant to create a “pull factor”
“Fundamentally, they want less numbers applying. The message going out is if you’re looking for asylum here, it’s not going to be easy. I don’t think our asylum process is anything to be proud of,” he said.
But the department claimed there is no policy of limiting the number of applicants granted asylum.
A spokesman said: “It would be illegal to impose any targets or quotas and Ireland has never done so.”