NGOs criticise ‘culture of secrecy’ over immigration enforcement figures

Fiona Finn
Fiona Finn

Immigrant support and human rights groups have called for greater transparency and oversight of immigration enforcement following an investigation by The Detail.

Analysis by The Detail of European Commission figures covering the period between 2008-16 show that 28,000 people were refused entry to Ireland, 24,000 people were deemed illegally present, 13,000 people were ordered to leave, and a further 6,000 people were deported or assisted to return to their home country.

The report also found that false or invalid visas or permits were the main reason non-EU citizens were refused entry over the period.

The Department of Justice does not publish detailed statistics on immigration enforcement or refusals of leave to land.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has called on the Government to “take all necessary steps, including provision of legal and interpretation services” to ensure that asylum seekers are not returned home in contravention of Ireland’s international commitments.

Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc, the Irish immigrant support centre, said: “It is incredibly important to see the breakdown of numbers refused leave to land, and we welcome The Detail’s work on this.

“We have been seeking these breakdowns for the last several years, and have experienced incredible difficulties accessing this data.”

Ms Finn added: “This is information the Department of Justice should be routinely providing, and it speaks to the general culture of secrecy that overshadows immigration and asylum that it is so difficult to access these figures.”

Catherine Cosgrave, legal services manager at the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: “Some of the grounds for refusal of leave to land are highly subjective. There is no published guidance regarding how the view of an immigration officer is reasonably formed.”