OSLO, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Norwegian police forcibly returned a record number of 8,078 illegal immigrants last year, Norway's public broadcaster NRK reported on Sunday.
This can result in an annual saving of reception expenses of over one billion kroner (118 million U.S. dollars), according to the report.
Many of the people who have been forcibly returned are not asylum seekers, but foreigners who have lost residence permit because of criminal behavior, the report said.
"This is about fighting crime and ensure safety of people. We shall find those who are staying illegally in Norway and send them back to the country they belong to," Sylvi Listhaug, Norwegian minister of migration and integration, told NRK.
"There were incredibly few asylum seekers who arrived to Norway, just over 3,000, so I am very satisfied," she added.
Morten Hojem Ervik, deputy chief of Norwegian immigration police, said that Listhaug's goal to forcibly return 9,000 foreigners per year was not reached due to "low number of arrivals to Norway."
In 2016, 28 percent of the deported immigrants were criminals, the report said.
According to NRK, immigrants who have received a final rejection but still live in reception center cost the country about 135,000 kroner per year per adult.
The expenses for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers are much higher, about 550,000 kroner per person.