Illegal Immigration - Main Points

The below summary was last updated July 2019

  • Ministers say they do not know the scale of illegal immigration.
  • No official estimate has been published since 2005.
  • Former senior Home Office personnel suggest that there are at least a million illegal immigrants here already.
  • An ex-head of border enforcement claims 150,000 people enter without permission or fail to depart each year (2,885 a week)
  • Our research finds a net increase in illegal immigration of at least 70,000 per year (see report).
  • 77% of the public see illegal immigration as a ‘serious problem’
  • 70-80% of the public support measures aimed at deterring illegal migrants from remaining in the UK (i.e. a compliant environment).
  • There has been a sharp decline in removals of those here illegally
  • Since 2012, grants of permission to stay for illegal migrants via routes that allow the regularisation of status appear to have increased significantly. We recommend that such routes be permanently closed as they only encourage more illegal immigration.
  • Each additional person staying on ‘costs the taxpayer between £4,255 and £7,820 per year through the use of public services such as health, education and welfare benefits’ (Government statistics).
  • There are serious enforcement failures. An ex-Home Office head of enforcement says the system looks to be in a state of ‘paralysis’.
  • Enforcement funding is entirely inadequate. The head of the immigration staff union notes that illegal immigrants 'have very little chance of being caught' due to the dearth of investment..
  • Border staff describe security at ports as ‘resourced to fail’.
  • Calls for an amnesty for illegals are absurd and must be rejected.

Illegal Immigration Research


Over the 23 years that Migration Watch UK has been working in this field we have produced many papers.

View Illegal Immigration Library