Criminal gangs are charging illegal immigrants £1,500 a time to smuggle them, wait for it, out of Britain, the BBC has revealed.
This is not a spoof item. Foreign nationals, some of whom entered the UK illegally in the first place – a criminal offence – are now put in the back of lorries and transported to France.
They want to avoid contact, and possible action or adverse stamps in their passports, with the UK Border Agency so they can travel to a European destination, rather than risk being sent back to their homeland thousands of miles away.
BBC’s Panorama has spent a year making contact with three criminal gangs offering to smuggle illegal immigrants out of the country with no questions asked.
BBC Reporter Paul Kenyon secretly recorded the meeting with the fixer of one gang, held in a fast-food restaurant in London.
Kenyon posed as an immigrant from Moldova who had been working illegally in the UK without a passport or paperwork and who wanted to return home to his sick wife.
The fixer, a former Indian police officer called ‘Munga’, said for £1,500 per person the gang would smuggle groups of three or four illegal immigrants across the Channel in the back of a lorry, taking them to Calais train station.
Mr Kenyon told the Daily Mail: ‘This is a trade in human cargo of a very different kind to the one the UK Border Agency is used to.
‘Many people will be astonished – as well as relieved – to learn that illegal immigrants are abandoning the UK in search of work abroad.
‘It suggests that attempts to crack down on failed asylum seekers and overstayers – as well as the downturn in our own economy and subsequent lack of work here – could at last be having an effect.
‘But who is to say that when these people fail to find work abroad, they won’t simply buy their way back to Britain via the very people traffickers they used to leave the country.
‘Once back here, they might then try again to claim asylum, or simply vanish into the “ghost” community.’
Illegal immigrants who are caught by the authorities are offered financial incentives if they agree to go home, but will face an automatic ban from returning to the UK.
It has been estimated by the think tank ippr that a forced deportation costs more than £11,000, and that could take £5 billion to remove around half a million illegal immigrants and overstayers.
Lengthy appeals, injunctions against removals and deportations and bail hearings add to the cost and time it takes to remove an overstayer.
Terror suspect Abu Qatada is still here after 10 years and over £2,000,000 in costs to the British taxpayer. But every day tax paying working migrants and fee paying students are forced to leave the UK.
Mark Harper, the immigration minister, yesterday admitted: ‘It is possible we don’t catch every single person who tries to enter the country clandestinely.’
But he added: ‘When we do catch people, we’re increasing the work we do with our European colleagues. We make sure people are fingerprinted so we can check to see if they have entered the European Union in another country.
‘If they have, we can return them back to the country where they first entered.’
Panorama: Immigration Undercover is on BBC1 at 8.30pm tonight.
Overstaying or breaching the terms of your visa, for instance illegally working whilst in the UK on a visitor visa or working too many hours on a student visa, are criminal offences which could carry a fine or prison sentence. In practice, the Secretary of State or UK Border Agency (UKBA) will seek to remove or deport you from the UK rather than keep you in prison.
Some illegal entrants and over staying visa holders are not aware that they may have a right to stay in the UK and could regularise their visas.
Cases involving EEA National or British partners, children born to British citizens or person settled in the UK (Indefinite Leave to Remain), domestic violence or Human Rights and Article 8 issues, are all circumstances which can lead to an application for leave to remain or an appeal on Human Rights grounds.
However, the time to make the application is before you get arrested, detained and removed from the UK.
Overstayers often fail to take action or are unaware of their human rights and are needlessly removed or deported. Once out of the UK, they will not have the same access to justice or the chance of an in-country appeal.
In certain cases you could have a right to an in-country appeal, even if the UKBA say your appeal must be heard outside the UK.
If you have been detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:
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