The home secretary has told MPs she accepts that the “go home” campaign was not a good idea, calling the vans too much of a “blunt instrument”.
Labour has said the government must now take responsibility for their policy’s “complete failure”.
Ms May claimed there were “some returns achieved” as a result of the plan, adding: “Politicians should be willing to step up to the plate and say when they think something actually hasn’t been as good an idea.”
“But we should also be absolutely clear about what used to happen under the last government.
“Under the last government if somebody came to the end of their visa, nobody got in touch with them to say to them that they should no longer be staying here in the UK.
“That is now happening as a result of the changes in the immigration enforcement, and over the last year as a result of the work that’s being done we’ve seen something around 4,000 people leaving the UK. It’s absolutely right we’re doing that.”