Mark Harper, the government’s immigration minister, appeared on live TV on Sunday to tell an Iraqi asylum seeker to "return home". Esam Amin has tried to claim asylum five times in the past six years, however Harper, a senior member of the Conservative Party, said that his claims were "ridiculous", adding that Amin should "leave the country".
In a heated exchange, Harper, who appeared with Amin on the BBC’s Sunday Politics West, told the Iraqi that neither the British government nor the British courts thought his claim to stay in the country legitimate and that the British taxpayer should not be responsible for supporting him.
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The minister, who is responsible for the so-called "racist vans" that toured London telling illegal immigrants to leave the UK, told Amin: "We are very clear Mr Amin has had the chance to claim asylum, his case has been looked at very carefully by the government, we didn’t find it credible." Harper added: "I’m afraid he has no right to be in the United Kingdom and he should leave."
However, Amin claimed that his life would be in danger were he to return to Iraq, "I am not an illegal person, I am an asylum seeker, I am a human being like you," he said. "My life in my country is in danger that’s why I decided, and I left my family and everything, to come here. I claimed asylum, I came to find a safe place. I know my story is true and your system doesn’t believe me."
He added: "Five times they didn’t believe me which has been going on for nearly six years. I can’t return to my home because my life is in danger there. I am campaigning so I can get my right to a safe place."