Three Lincolnshire based car washes were issued with on-the-spot penalty notices for employing illegal workers and could face fines of up to £10,000 unless bosses can prove the correct checks were carried out.
UK Border Agency (UKBA) officials said they were acting on intelligence when they visited the car washes and checked the identity documents of employees.
Officers found a 24-year-old failed asylum seeker at Spalding Hand Car Wash in Cradge Business Park, an illegal 19-year-old at Premier Hand Car Wash in Commercial Road, and another 19-year-old Iranian at the A152 Hand Car Wash in Spalding Road, Gosberton.
Rachel Challis, from the UK Border Agency’s Boston-based Local Immigration Team, said:
“We are working hard to pull the plug on the illegal jobs which lure illegal immigrants to come to the UK in the first place.
“Illegal working is unfair on honest employers who recruit staff with the right to work in the UK and who pay them a proper salary.
“Employers who don’t play by the rules will get struck off our register, lose the right to recruit staff from outside Europe, face on the spot fines and could potentially end up in jail.”
A new civil penalty system was brought in last year to make it easier to fine bosses who fail to carry out proper checks on workers from outside Europe.
A civil fine of up to £10,000 can now be imposed for each illegal worker found at a business.
Officials are now taking steps to remove the men, all Iranian failed asylum seekers, from the UK.
Immigration Matters Comment
Whilst these raids create dramatic headlines the reality is that the UK Border Agency is fighting a losing battle against illegal immigration.
As the Sky TV show UK Border Force illustrates, many of the illegal workers arrested are later released because they have no passport. They are told to report each week to a UKBA centre, but as you might expect they usually disappear into the underground world where they can regroup.
Last night’s show also featured a car wash where several illegal workers from Afganistan were caught working (for £1.50 per hour).
Three of the men claimed to be 15 years old, when they clearly looked closer to 30 and even had grey hair.
The fact they the men, who said they could not speak English, claimed to be minors threw a ‘spanner in the works’ and meant that Social Workers had to be called in to carry out an ‘age assessment’.
They were later all judged to be over 18, but because some of the group had lost their documents and therefore could not be deported they were released.
The report ended with the news that one of the group, a failed asylum seeker who had overstayed for six years, later put in a fresh application and was legalised and granted stay in the UK.
The car wash owners were fined £20,000, which probably does not even cover the cost of deploying a team of enforcement officers, Social Workers, Immigration Judges (to handle appeals), Lawyers and running centres to which previously arrested (and later released) illegal workers are asked to report.
It is little wonder that the tabloids are daily proclaiming that “immigration is out of control”. Unfortunately, the headlines clouds the immigration debate since the points system for managed migration and the old work permit system on the whole worked well.
All the hard work of the UKBA and the arrest of a few people here and there will have little effect on the estimated 500,000 – 750,000 illegal workers in the UK, which leading think tank, ippr, says will take 20 years to remove at a cost of £5 billion.
The London School of Economics said in a recently published a report that granting amnesty to long-term illegal immigrants in the UK, could add up to £3bn to the economy.
The LSE report added that an amnesty would not lead to a rise in migration but would raise spending on welfare services and housing.
Until the government decides to grasp the nettle and come up with more radical proposals for a regularisation programme the problem will not be solved.
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