Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Seán McCárthaigh

Ireland recorded the fourth highest number of refusals within the EU last year for stopping non-EU citizens trying to enter its territory, according to new figures.

At the same time, however, Ireland reported the smallest number of third-country nationals ordered to leave the jurisdiction among the 27 EU member states last year.

In addition, the Republic had the second-smallest total in the EU in 2022 of non-EU nationals found illegally within its borders.

Official statistics on immigration controls and enforcement published by the European Commission show a total of 9,240 non-EU nationals were denied entry into the Republic in 2022 – 6.6 per cent of all refusals at EU borders.

It is the highest annual total of refusals by Irish immigration authorities over the past 15 years.

Last year’s figure is also almost two and a half times the number of refusals of entry to non-EU citizens in 2021 when 3,725 were turned away at Irish borders which was the 11th highest total in the EU that year.

Only three other EU countries had a higher number of absolute refusals than Ireland last year – Poland (23,330), Hungary (15,870) and Croatia (11,800) – who have all operated some of the tightest immigration controls within the EU over the past three years.

The main reasons individuals were refused entry at borders were the lack of a valid visa or residence permit as well as the purpose and conditions of their stay not being justified.

Citizens of Georgia recorded the highest number of refusals by the Irish authorities last year with 1,685 denied entry followed by Somalia (1,045), Zimbabwe (610), Syria (595) and South Africa 570) as well as 10 individuals who were classified as “stateless”.

Overall, 141,060 non-EU citizens were refused entry into EU territory last year – up one per cent on 2021 figures.

Citizens of Ukraine accounted for the largest number of refusals with a total of 28,890, although the figure was down 43 per cent on the previous year – followed by citizens of Albania (15,630) and Russia (10,860).

Most Ukrainians denied entry to the EU had attempted to cross land borders into Poland and Hungary.

The latest figures show only 605 non-EU citizens were found to be illegally present in the Republic last year – the 2nd lowest total among EU member states after Denmark (510).

Although it represents a slight increase on the 565 illegals detected living in Ireland in 2021, it is the second lowest annual total since 2008 and considerably below the peak of 2009 when over 5,000 individuals were discovered living here illegally.

Brazilians represented the largest nationality group found to be in the Republic illegally during 2022 with 180 ahead of citizens of Pakistan (110), India (45), China (35) and Nigeria (30).

Overall, more than 1.08 million individuals were found to be illegally present across the 27 EU member states last year – a 59% increase on 2021 levels.

The largest number of illegal individuals was detected in Hungary where 222,520 were found to be unlawfully living followed by Germany (198,310) and Italy (138,420).

Syrians accounted for the highest number of people found to be illegally present in the EU last year with 175,960, followed by Afghanistan (119,520) and Morocco (60,215).

The latest figures also show there was a fourfold increase in the number of non-EU nationals ordered by Irish immigration authorities to leave the jurisdiction last year, albeit from a very low base due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A total of 630 individuals were issued with orders to leave the Republic last year – up from 160 in 2021.

However, it was also the lowest figure of any of the 27 EU member states in 2022 directing non-EU nationals to return outside their borders.

Citizens of Pakistan were most affected with 145 issued with orders to leave followed by nationals from Albania (130), Georgia (75), Algeria (35) and Brazil and Bangladesh (30 each).

Overall, 422,400 non-EU citizens were issued with an order to leave an EU country in 2022 – an annual increase of 23 per cent.

France reported the largest number of non-EU citizens ordered to leave its territory with 135,650 ahead of Croatia (40,245) and Greece (33,500).

In total, 96,795 were returned to another country including other EU member states following an order to leave.

A total of 190 departed Ireland including 30 from Brazil as well as 20 each from Pakistan and Nigeria.

The figures show approximately 85 per cent of all non-EU citizens returned outside the EU from Ireland did so on a voluntary basis.

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