From UDI Annual Report 2011:
It is easy to get the impression that Norway, especially Oslo, is flooded with criminals that the authorities don’t know the identity of. But what are the facts about so-called irregular immigrants?
30 000 – where does this figure come from?
We do not know exactly how many people are in Norway illegally. Statistics Norway has estimated that there were about 18 000 illegal immigrants in 2006, and that the true figure was probably between 10 000 and 32 000. So 30 000 is possible, but the figure is quite unlikely to be so high. Two out of three were probably former asylum seekers.
In 2012, the UDI will receive the results of new calculations for the period 2007–2010.
“Irregulars”, what do we mean by this?
The term “irregulars” is not an official concept with clearly defined content, but when used by the media, two types of document are often confused: : identity documents and residence permits.
“We do not know who the asylum seekers are, hardly anyone presents travel documents when seeking asylum.”
There are many reasons why few of them present their identity documents.
It is true that only 9 per cent present travel documents when seeking asylum. There are several reasons for this
- Many of them have never held passports, e.g. people from Somalia.
- Many people are told by smugglers and helpers to throw away or hide their passports.
- They have often had bad experiences with the police and other authorities and are very reserved early on in the asylum process.
However, a much greater number present their ID documents or substantiate their identities in some other way while their case is being processed.
“Lots of people disappear from the reception centres, and we have no idea where they are.”
That is true, but we do know where many of them are.
At the end of the year, 4 900 people obliged to leave Norway were living in reception centres. 1 200 of these were children.
In 2011, almost 400 people left the reception centres every month without providing a new address. On average, 180 of them soon returned to the reception centres or another known address, or they were settled in a local community by the authorities. Many people also left Norway without informing the authorities.
“People without official residence have no rights and live in unworthy conditions.”
Some people are in a difficult situation, but they do have rights. It is very true that many people have put their lives on hold, but those without official residence status are obliged to leave the country. We therefore wish to give these people the possibility of a dignified return. While they remain here, they have some rights:
- the option of staying at asylum centres
- the right to immediate health assistance and help which cannot wait, including necessary health assistance before and after birth
- the right to basic education (children)
“Nobody is doing anything to make them leave the country.”
As many as possible should return voluntarily.
People who are obliged to leave the country must return to their countries of origin quickly, ideally voluntarily, but they will be returned by force if necessary. The UDI is responsible for voluntary return, while the police are responsible for forced return. The number of people returning has increased in recent years. The UDI has worked intensively on providing information and encouraging people to return voluntarily by means of various return programmes. Those who return must be able to cope when they arrive, and education is an important aspect in the work with returns. The police give priority to deporting persons convicted of crimes.
We have return agreements with a number of important countries, but some returns are still difficult due to doubt about the identities of those concerned or potential risks to the in-flight safety.
To what extent are they criminals?
1 400 people were expelled for criminal offences in 2011.
Of these, 25 per cent were former asylum seekers. In 2011, Statistics Norway published a report showing that certain nationalities predominate in the crime statistics. Many asylum seekers have come from some of these nations. But asylum seekers also tend to be young men, who are generally more likely to commit crimes than the average population. If we adjust the figures to take into account this demographic imbalance, the overrepresentation is reduced.
In 2011, there were 970 arrests of a total of 530 people in the public drug scenes in Oslo. Most of them were foreigners without residence permits, and they were generally people who had either not sought asylum or who had received final rejections. Some of these disappear into illegal residence in Norway. The UDI prioritised the processing of asylum applications for 90 of the people arrested.