So many asylum seekers have been given leave to remain in the UK that it "amounts to an amnesty", MPs have said.
Out of 403,500 cases dealt with by the UK Border Agency (UKBA), 9% resulted in removal while 40% of applicants - 161,000 - were allowed to stay.
The Home Affairs Committee also said it was "indefensible" that in one in six cases, the UKBA simply had "no idea" what had happened to the applicant.
"Absolutely there is not an amnesty," immigration minister Damian Green told James Naughtie.
"The system is getting better now", he said, with applications at a 20 year low, and spending on asylum support down by £100m.
But committee chair Keith Vaz MP said that he understood how hard it is for ministers to say it.
"But the fact remains that in our view there has been, in effect, a silent amnesty."
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