Home Office did set targets for voluntary removal of illegal immigrants.
The Home Office set targets for the voluntary departure of anyone regarded as having no right to live in the UK, a 2015 report has revealed.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd denied that targets had been set during a tense grilling by the Commons Committee investigating the Windrush fiasco.
But the 2015 investigation report revealed that the Home Office did set targets for the voluntary departure of people who could not lawfully stay in the UK.
An inspection of removals by the borders and immigration watchdog said targets were set in 2014/15 and for 2015/16, which were then split between 19 Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) teams across the UK.
The targets, and how they were divided up, were first reported by the BBC.
Speaking on Wednesday, Ms Rudd said she was not familiar that regional targets were in place and the Home Office said it had “never been (its) policy to take decisions arbitrarily to meet a target”.
Was this the moment Amber Rudd revealed she has no grip on #Windrush or her department?
"Targets for removals when were they set?" asks @yvettecooper
"Err we don't have targets for removals," says Amber Rudd.
"But you did," says Cooper.
"I don't know what you are talking about." pic.twitter.com/2WVMSjD662
— Alan Travis (@alantravis40) April 26, 2018
Footage from the debate showed Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the committee, directly ask Ms Rudd when the regional target removals were set.
Ms Rudd replied: “Err we don’t have targets for removals.”
“But you did,” Ms Cooper retorted.
To which Ms Rudd said: “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
When Ms Cooper explained that there was previous evidence from the Home Office to show regional targets for net removals, Ms Rudd added: “I didn’t hear the testimony I’m not sure what shape that’s in, if you’re asking if there’s numbers of peoples we expect to be removed that’s not how we operate.
“I do think it is right, I know we are talking about Windrush here who are legal migrants, where there are people who are here illegally, it is right that we do try to remove them.”
Ms Cooper called for the issue to be “cleared up pretty quickly”.
She added: “If there are removal targets in the Home Office and the two people are supposedly in charge don’t know about them then that feels pretty serious.
“It feels like a lack of grip anywhere in the system.”
Ms Cooper branded the response a “complete fudge” and demanded “a proper answer”.
The Home Secretary has spoken of her “bitter regret” at failing to grasp the scale of the Windrush scandal sooner.
Ms Rudd and her predecessor Theresa May have come under intense pressure after it emerged long-term residents who arrived in the decades after the Second World War were having their immigration status challenged despite being in the country legally.
She told MPs she had become aware of there was a “potential issue” over the “past few months”.
But added: “I bitterly, deeply regret that I didn’t see it as more than individual cases that had gone wrong that needed addressing.
“I didn’t see it as a systemic issue until very recently.”
Jeremy Corbyn has called on Ms Rudd to resign over the Windrush scandal, claiming she had inherited a “failing policy” and made it “worse”.