Beverley Hughes, Home Office minister for asylum and immigration, faced the nation in the culmination of special programmes for BBC One's Asylum Day.
Beverley Hughes: minister for asylum and immigration since 2002
In a live studio discussion, together with a panel of other key players involved in the asylum system, she debated some of the issues raised throughout the day.
The panel also responded to some of the many questions and comments we received by e-mail over the last few days and on the night.
I am now ashamed to live in this country and to be male. I personally would swap some of the people who voted tonight for any of the asylum seekers featured.
Jason Evans, Stourbridge
Why did you not featuring asylum seekers who are in the country illegally under false identities having been refused asylum?
The programmes today have been an interesting insight into the mess consecutive governments have made of the immigration system.
Edward Sheldon, Gloucester
Our culture has been enriched for centuries by other traditions and cultures. The most urgent need in the 21st Century is education to banish public fear and ignorance.
Chris Rigby, Devon
How dare you allow these people in to our country? How dare you let them exploit our failing NHS? How dare you allow them to exploit our benefits system?
It cannot be acceptable to accept migrants who have travelled through safe democratic countries in order to reach a country of their choice.
As a Gambian living in the UK, I know that many of my countrymen come here because they feel England owes it to them after decades of profits made during the slave trade.
Ndey Sosseh, UK
The benefit system is not an
end, it is simply a stop gap measure as people chase their dreams.
James, south London
We should distinguish between those who are genuine refugees and those who should be termed economic migrants.
I agree we need to show compassion, but we need to show it to our own
elderly, sick and children too.
It is clear that we have no chance to deal with the immigrant problem and stay within international law since it is abused to such an extent that it is no longer viable.
William S Broome
I am appalled by the way that some sections of our press demonise asylum seekers when they themselves have not suffered the terrible hardships that these people have gone through.
Asylum: Face The Nation was broadcast on Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, at 21:00 BST on BBC One. It can be viewed on demand from this website.