Illegal immigrants working in England to face jail time

Illegal immigrants employed in England and Wales face up to six months in prison according to proposals for Immigration Bill

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Officers lead a Romanian national, arrested on immigration offences in Southall, London.

Illegal immigrants employed in businesses in England and Wales will face up to six months in prison, under new proposals which are to be included in the forthcoming Immigration Bill in an attempt to clamp down on illegal immigration.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire stated that the government "would continue to crack down on abuse" of the system.

Takeaway restaurants and off-licences who are found to be hiring illegal immigrants could lose their operating licences, including penalties of unlimited fines and wages being taken away.

Authorities are also considering whether these new arrangements should also include minicab drivers and operators.

"Anyone who thinks the UK is a soft touch should be in no doubt - if you are here illegally, we will take action to stop you from working, renting a flat, opening a bank account or driving a car,” Brokenshire argued.

Employers’ legal defence will also change, they will no longer be accepted to claim that they did not know a particular employee was an illegal immigrant - employers will have to prove that they carried out proper checks before hiring their employees.

Those who are found guilty of knowingly employing an illegal immigrant will face a maximum sentence from two to five years in addition to the fines already in force which can reach up to £20,000 ($32,000) per person.

Brokenshire has previously stated that businesses that employ illegal immigrants will be faced with "the full force of government machinery."

The British government has made many new announcements concerning immigrants over the summer of which this is the latest.

"As a one nation government we will continue to crack down on abuse and build an immigration system that works in the best interests of the British people and those who play by the rules," Brokenshire added.

Alp Mehmet, part of Migration Watch UK, which backs tighter immigration controls, said "this is not just about not being seen as a soft touch, but more important is for the message to go out that if you are here illegally and caught working, you and your employer will end up in court.”

"Let us hope that the authorities will not shy away from acting on the powers they are to be given, since their record on that front has not always been exemplary," Mehmet added.

Earlier this month, the government also announced that tenants who lose their right to live in the country should be evicted from their rented homes, according to the proposed Immigration Bill.

Landlords will have the right to evict their tenants, sometimes even without a court order, if the tenants’ asylum requests fail to be approved - they must check a migrant's status prior to agreeing to a lease.

Illegal immigrants who fail to meet their tenants’ requests could face up to five years in prison.


Immigration officers are reported to be preparing to start a wave of raids this autumn targeting building sites, care homes and cleaning contractors according to the Times.

A 2009 study conducted by London School of Economics estimated that the UK harbors 618,000 "irregular" residents - including children - however, in 2010 campaign group Migration Watch reported that the figure was closer to 1.1 million.

UK Ministers have reported that last year alone, about 36,000 "immigration offenders" have been removed from UK.

TRTWorld and agencies