Britain is benefiting ‘very little’ from a Brussels deal to send asylum-seekers back to the country where they first set foot in Europe.
A damning report says the rules known as the Dublin Regulation are ‘virtually useless’ amid concerns that other members of the bloc are exploiting Britain.
Migrants are supposed to claim asylum in the first member state they arrive in. Those who fail to do so can be returned there if they later travel on to another EU country.
Thousands of asylum seekers have made their way to the UK from Calais
There were clashes last month between Eritrean and Afghan asylum seekers in Calais
An analysis by the Migrationwatch think-tank shows Britain asked its European partners to take back 4,237 asylum-seekers in 2016 on the grounds they had arrived elsewhere in Europe. But just 355 were transferred that year – fewer than one in ten.
The figures also reveal that for the whole of 2016 and 2017, only 676 asylum-seekers were sent back to Europe under the rules, fewer than one a day.
This is despite thousands making their way here via Calais. Over the same period, the UK accepted 1,019 asylum-seekers from other countries under the Dublin Regulations.
Migrationwatch, which campaigns for tighter borders, says the UK is gaining little advantage from the agreement.
Vice-chairman Alp Mehmet, said: ‘These figures suggest that the Dublin agreement has become virtually useless for the UK. We have seriously to consider whether its continuation serves British interests.’
In the last year, 26,350 people claimed asylum in Britain while thousands a month are being detected at ports on both sides of the Channel, indicating that huge numbers are trying to sneak in.
Extraordinary images routinely show gangs of migrants trying to clamber aboard UK-bound lorries.
Despite the so-called ‘Jungle’ shanty town being torn down in October 2016, almost 1,000 migrants have converged there again in a desperate bid to get into the UK.
Thousands of migrants in Calais are desperate to get to Britain – and once they get to the UK they are unlikely to be made to leave
The fact that only a tiny number of migrants have been sent back is being blamed on EU rules, which make it difficult to establish where a migrant is eligible to claim asylum.
These regulations have been especially exploited by France, which claims it is not responsible for migrants coming to the UK from Calais.
Home Office officials say their hands are tied if a country refuses to take back asylum- seekers as it is difficult to establish exactly where an individual first arrived in Europe. EU countries have also been accused of failing to fingerprint stowaways they seize at their border so the asylum problem passes onto other countries.
Under the convention, any country which fingerprints an immigrant has to take responsibility for them.
It means thousands of migrants have been able to make their way across Europe unhindered once they had made it to the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone, ending up in Calais in a bid to reach the UK.
The Migrationwatch report was based on figures from answers given by ministers to Parliament and from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics section.