Under detailed plans revealed by the government, illegal immigrants caught working in the UK could face up to six months in prison.
Pubs, takeaways and off-licences all face the risk of being shut down if they are found to be employing illegal immigrants. Employers who are found to be knowingly employing employees with no rights to work in the UK will also face potentially larger jail sentences, with the maximum sentence being raised from two years to five.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire believes that the new law will help to shrug off the perception of the UK being a “soft touch” destination: “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.
“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. “Illegal workers will face the prospect of a prison term and rogue employers could have their businesses closed, have their licences removed, or face prosecution if they continue to flout the law.”
Details of the new law have arrived mere days ahead of the release of the latest immigration figures. The new law would allow wages to be seized as proceeds of crime, with those who are caught, facing the prospect of jail time and unlimited fines.
At this moment in time businesses such as pubs, corner shops and takeaways are affected by the law – which could see their license withdrawn if they are found guilty of employing illegal immigrants – but government officials are now considering extending the power to include cab drivers and operators.
Banks will now be forced to check all current accounts against the migrant database, whilst private landlords are being forced to crack down, as not removing illegal immigrants could result in jail time.
Alp Mehmet (Migration Watch UK) is a campaigner for immigration restrictions and welcomes the changes: “This is not just about not being seen as a soft touch. 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.”