London: Britain is Europe’s most popular destination for asylum seekers, official figures out today showed, as a report found that the term had developed negative connotations among native Britons.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office showed that Britain received 7,700 asylum applications, including dependants,this year which is 300 more than France, the second most popular destination in Europe.
Asylum and immigration has long been a hot topic in Britain, with critics accusing the government of lax border controls and presiding over an immigration surge that has brought little benefit to those already here.
Nationalities with the largest numbers of citizenship applications granted were Indians with 14,490, Filipinos (10,840), Afghanis (10,555), South Africans (8,150) and Pakistanis (8,140).
Overall, 31% of those becoming British had previously held an African nationality and people from Asia accounted for 22%.
There was a 16% rise in asylum applications in the first three months of 2008, to 6,595 (excluding dependants), compared with the same period last year.There was also a 13% drop to 2,805 in the number of failed asylum seekers deported from January to March.
Immigration minister Liam Byrne insisted the figures showed “our shake-up of border security is delivering results” but Damian Green, his shadow for the main opposition Conservatives, labelled them “extraordinary”.
“This undermines the government’s pledge to remove more failed asylum seekers than arrive, let alone make inroads into the massive backlog,” Green added.