THE number of would-be refugees being deported has dramatically fallen even though more than 6,000 failed asylum- seekers are classified as "evading deportation".
Immigration sources said it appeared a much softer approach was now being taken when it came to enforcing deportation orders, with only 43 people returned to their home in the first five months of the year.
The numbers have shown a six-fold decline compared to 2004, when 599 people were deported. This year, the number is not expected to exceed 100, the lowest since large numbers of asylum-seekers began arriving in the state around a decade ago.
In the past five and a half years, successive ministers have signed a total of 8,196 deportation orders, the Department of Justice said. Only 25% of them have been implemented with 2,066 people sent home, some on specially chartered aircraft and others on scheduled flights.
So-called "mass deportations" also appear to have been phased out with only eight asylum-seekers deported. The departmental figures also reveal that since the beginning of 2003, a massive 6,173 people have either vanished or failed to appear for deportation.