The number of asylum seekers in Rochdale is ‘not acceptable’ and are a ‘problem’ that costs a huge bulk of the town MP’s budget, says Simon Danczuk.
Many are only ‘so-called asylum seekers’ who are looking for work not sanctuary and should go ‘back to their own country’ – and even the genuine ones create an ‘unfair burden’ for Rochdale, he said.
The Labour MP made the comments in an exclusive chat with MM, where we asked him his thoughts on the 680 asylum seekers currently living in Rochdale.
There are more asylum seekers in Rochdale per head of population than there are in London – and Mr Danczuk claimed that those genuinely seeking asylum should be more evenly dispersed.
He hit out at the fact David Cameron’s constituency doesn’t have any asylum seekers placed there, while claiming that the government are ‘not very good’ at returning those not eligible for asylum to their home country.
Many ‘end up hanging around here when they shouldn’t be here’, Mr Danczuk added.
The 48-year-old MP told MM: “The government are sending them here. It’s not acceptable.
“We’ve had massive public cuts to public services, from health services, through to schools, through to council services and yet the government are burdening the town with so many asylum seekers and it’s just not fair.”
Very busy weekly surgery today: immigration, blue badges, patents, policing, trees, water bills, business support, etc.
— Simon Danczuk (@SimonDanczuk) December 12, 2014
In 2013 there were 23,584 applications for asylum in the UK and some countries which have regularly featured in the top ten countries of origin of asylum seekers over recent years are Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Eritrea, and Pakistan.
The MP frequently receives visits to his weekly surgery from people who claim they are seeking asylum.
Mr Danczuk said: “I deal with hundreds of asylum seekers in my constituency and that’s a lot of case work I have to deal with. The majority of my MPs’ expenses go on staffing and that staffing is to deal with problems like this.
“I learnt from that experience of them coming to my surgery that they’re not seeking asylum, I learn that from what they tell me.
“You know, how they arrived here and what problems they face in their own country, and often it’s the case that they could go back to their own country. There’s no justification for them being in the United Kingdom.”
Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis of the Refugee Council, one of the leading charities in the UK working directly with refugees and asylum seeker, does not agree that the situation is as simple as this however.
She said: “The world is in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War yet the proportion of people seeking safety in the UK remains extremely low. Those who are lucky enough to reach our shores are fleeing known conflict areas and countries with notoriously poor human rights records include Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan.
“It’s important to remember that Britain’s asylum system saves lives and ensures that vulnerable people are not returned to what could be their deaths.”
Mr Danczuk, who is involved in the All Party groups on Pakistan, Kashmir and Bangladesh, claims there are two solutions to the issue in regards to the large numbers of asylum seekers in the UK.
He said: “One is to ensure that those so-called asylum-seekers who are really economic migrants, people who aren’t fleeing abuse or problems in their country but are really just coming here for employment and to improve their lives should be returned to their country of origin as soon as possible.
“The government need to get better at returning people to their country of origin, because they’re not very good at it and people end up hanging around and just staying around when they shouldn’t be here.
“The second thing where people are genuinely seeking asylum, and there are such people, then they should be dispersed to other towns and cities across the United Kingdom, not disproportionately to places like Rochdale.
“So, for example, there are no asylum seekers in the Prime Minister’s constituency and there is only one in the Home Secretary’s constituency. Why not put more of them there?”
Image courtesy of The Home Office via YouTube, with thanks.