By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Only 15 percent of deportation orders against failed asylum seekers have been enforced in the last two years, the Department of Justice has revealed.
The disclosure comes as the Garda’s recently established immigration unit begins to use controversial new powers of fingerprinting and arrest that came into effect Nov. 20.
Since deportations began under the Immigration Act last year, Justice Minister John O’Donoghue had made 867 deportation orders.
Over 41 percent have either evaded deportation or have vanished from their last known address, a spokesman said.
Others are still outstanding, are the subject of judicial reviews or have been revoked on the advice of the Attorney General.
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Asylum seekers are arriving at a rate of over 1,000 a month and the new laws on fingerprinting will also apply to almost 13,000 who are already in the system seeking decisions on their applications to be allowed stay.
The spokesman said that funds to pay 370 additional staff to process applications was included in last week’s budget estimates.
"This will significantly speed up the processing of applications and allow the backlog to be cleared," the spokesman said.
All asylum applicants over 14 are now being fingerprinted. The records will be kept for 10 years unless an asylum seeker is given citizenship when they will then be destroyed within a month.
The move is aimed at "more effectively rooting out false applications and abuses of the system," the spokesman said.
There are now almost 160 gardai employed full-time on immigration and asylum matters. They now have power to detain a person at the same time that a deportation order is being served on them if they suspect they will abscond.
There have also been given new powers to deal with forgery and fraud involving identity papers, passports and visas. Those found guilty will face a fine of up to £1,500 and/or a month in jail.
Asylum seekers can also be arrested if they are suspected of being a threat to national security or have committed a serious non-political crime outside the State.