Rogue employers who give jobs to illegal immigrants will be hit with the “full force” of the government machine, immigration minister James Brokenshire has warned.
He said the government was determined to act.
Britain has actually got to accept more asylum seekersMark Goldring
Mr Brokenshire said: “Rogue employers who give jobs to illegal migrants are denying work to UK citizens and legal migrants and helping drive down wages.”
His comments came as it was reported that immigration officers were preparing to mount a wave of raids this autumn targeting building sites, care homes and cleaning contractors.
“Experience tells us that employers who are prepared to cheat employment rules are also likely to breach health and safety rules and pay insufficient tax.
“That’s why our new approach will be to use the full force of government machinery to hit them from all angles and take away the unfair advantage enjoyed by those who employ illegal migrants.”
His intervention came after Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the huge influx of migrants coming from Africa was threatening to undermine social cohesion and living standards across Europe.
Mr Hammond said the continent could not absorb “millions” of Africans and called for the overhaul of EU laws to ensure those coming simply to find a better way of life could be returned to their own countries.
He said in many cases, migrants knew that once they managed to reach Europe, there was little chance of them ever being forced to leave.
His comments were condemned as “mean-spirited” and “shameful” by Amnesty International while Labour said the Foreign Secretary was guilty of “scaremongering.”
Steve Symonds, of Amnesty International UK, denounced his comments, saying the government had a duty to protect people fleeing conflicts and brutal regimes.
“With countries like Lebanon, Ethiopia and Chad hosting far more refugees than the UK and other European countries, the Foreign Secretary’s mean-spirited response is shameful,” he said.
Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam UK, said: “I think Europe has to recognise at the moment that a few countries are bearing an unfair burden and Britain is not one of them.
“Britain has actually got to accept more asylum seekers, it has got to find more systematic ways of assessing who the right people are.
“And it has to recognise that as a global citizen it has a bigger role to play in peacekeeping.”
He added: “The number of migrants we have accepted from Syria is in the hundreds – it needs to be in the thousands.”
Asked whether David Cameron agreed with Mr Hammond’s description of the “marauding” migrants, the Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said she would not be “commenting on every single word that a Cabinet minister does or doesn’t use”, but added that people had been threatened at Coquelles.
The spokeswoman said: “The PM would focus on the practical steps that we should be taking.
“It is a fact that there have been tens, if not more, of migrants around the tunnel entrance at Coquelles every night seeking to threaten people there and to break through our fences and to enter the UK illegally.”