London: The UK does not have a track record of at least 150,000 migrants who have been refused permission to stay in the country, a watchdog has warned.
According to The Independent, John Vine, the chief inspector of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), said there is no clear strategy to find out what proportion of this growing number of migrants is still living in the UK illegally.
"Tracking these absconders down and removing them from the country is not seen as a priority for the agency," Vine said.
"There are over 150,000 cases nationally of migrants who have been refused an extension of stay in the UK. The agency does not know how many of these individuals have left the country or who are waiting to be removed," he added.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper described Vine's report as "damning" for the Government.
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "I am astonished that the UKBA has no idea where 159,000 individuals, the size of a city like Oxford, have gone since their application was rejected."
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "Under the last government there was no effective strategy in place to ensure migrants left at the end of their time in the UK".
"The UK Border Agency is now working through a group of potential overstayers to identify those who have not left," he said.
First Published: Thursday, July 05, 2012, 15:37