Number of illegal immigrants ordered to leave Ireland doubles

2,535 people were ordered to leave the country by the State during 2019 - up from 1,385 in the previous year 
Number of illegal immigrants ordered to leave Ireland doubles
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The number of illegal immigrants ordered to leave Ireland last year almost doubled, while there was also a sharp increase in the number of non-EU nationals refused entry into the Republic.

There was also an increase in the number of non-EU nationals who actually left Ireland following an order to leave issued by Irish immigration authorities during 2019.

New figures on immigration law enforcement across the EU show the number of third country nationals issued with an order to leave Ireland after being found to be illegal immigrants reached its highest level in over a decade last year.

A total of 2,535 individuals were issued with orders by the immigration authorities to leave the State during 2019 – up from 1,385 the previous year.

The latest figures show the number of non-EU nationals being turned away at border controls in Ireland also hit a 10-year peak in 2019 with 7,455 refused entry – a daily average of over 20.

It was the seventh consecutive year that the number of third country nationals prevented from entering the Republic has increased.

Minster for Justice says most people are returned on the same day they are refused entry 

In reply to a parliamentary question earlier this week, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, said that a refusal of leave to land, unlike a deportation or removal order, does not prevent the person from seeking to enter the State in the future if they satisfy the conditions for entry.

The Minister said there was a statutory obligation to return a person refused entry permission as soon as was practicable and that detaining them in a Garda station or prison was used “as a last resort”.

“Most persons are returned on the same day that they are refused entry,” she added.

The figures published by the European Commission show 717,600 non-EU citizens were refused entry into the EU at one of its external borders during 2019 – an annual increase of 58% with 263,000 more individuals stopped from entering the EU than the previous year.

Spain accounted for more than two-thirds of all refusals with high numbers also turned back by Poland and France.

The highest number of non-EU citizens refused entry into the EU were Moroccans who accounted for more than two-thirds of the total followed by Ukrainians and Albanians.

Around 627,900 non-EU citizens were found to be illegally present in EU member states last year – up 10% on 2018 levels but way below the 2015 peak when the figure reached almost 2.1 million.

However, the number of illegal immigrants detected in the Republic during 2019 fell by 90 to 1,955 – an annual decrease of 4%.

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