London: The Punjabi suburb of Southall in west London was at the centre of a BBC sting operation, which revealed a network of illegal immigrants from India. Later, two Indians were caught illegally entering the UK in an army lorry from Kosovo.
Member of Parliament, Ealing and Southall, Virendra Sharma says tackling illegal immigration will require intensive monitoring.
“I think it’s important to find out how many they are, what is their living standard here, and what kind of work they do. I’m not supporting illegal immigration, I’m saying those who are illegally here should be dealt with as per the law,” Sharma says.
But that's easier said than done, as there are many links in this chain.
Illegal immigrants, especially those from India, use different routes to enter the UK. While some come via the EU countries on lorries or boats, others simply overstay their visas. Once in the UK they meet the middlemen who provide them with fake passports and forged identities.
There are some landlords who take them on as tenants. Then they seek employers who are willing to hire them at very low wages. So although hidden, this operation seems to have its unique structure and organisation.
“The illegal immigrants are doing this for their own purposes. It is a close-knit community, which is very hard to crackdown upon,” says immigration lawyer Tony Shergill.
But the government is talking tough. Under the new immigration plans announced in February, employers will be held accountable for hiring foreign workers. Huge penalties will be imposed on businesses that break the rules.
In addition, local immigration teams are to be formed by 2012 to monitor and prevent employers from hiring illegal workers. Introducing biometric visas and stricter border controls are also some of the measures, the government hopes, will help tackle the problem.