Legitimate migrants told to quit Britain
THE British Home Secretary, Theresa May, has promised to look into the cases of people entitled to live in Britain who have been wrongly told to leave the country by a private company acting on behalf of the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
Capita, which won a £40 million ($61.3 million) UKBA contract to trace 174,000 migrants living illegally in Britain from September, has been sending text messages and emails to them saying they are required to leave the country.
The contract covers 174,000 migrants who have been refused permission to stay in Britain but whose whereabouts are unknown to authorities.
But immigration lawyers say those who have received texts from Capita in recent weeks include a woman who held a valid British passport and a man with a valid visa who had invested £1 million in a business in Britain.
The text message tells recipients to contact UKBA at once.
Lawyers say the texts were sent out over the Christmas period and those who were wrongly informed they needed to leave were extremely distressed.
Alison Harvey, of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association, said it had asked for the messages not to be sent over the holiday period.
''We were concerned at reports of people who had valid leave to be in the UK receiving the texts and that, over the holiday period, it would be difficult for them to get in touch with their lawyer and they would be anxious and distressed,'' she said. ''Our request was declined.''
Capita said it was working on the basis of information received from UKBA, which admitted the problem was with the accuracy of its records.
''We advise anyone contacted in error to contact us,'' the company said. ''A contact telephone number is provided for applicants to discuss their case.''
The £40 million contract covers the 174,000 migrants who have been refused permission to stay in Britain but whose whereabouts are unknown to authorities.
The existence of this ''migration refusal pool'' was disclosed in July during an investigation by John Vine, the independent chief inspector of immigration.
UKBA said at the time that 40 per cent of those in the ''pool'' had not been formally told that they must leave Britain.
Guardian News & Media