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News & Views


Restaurant owners call for talks on immigration tactics


Scotland’s restaurant owners are demanding a debate over the “heavy handed” tactics used in immigration raids. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) and the Edinburgh and Lothian Racial Equality Council (Elrec) will discuss concerns over surprise raids and the difficulty of staying on the right side of immigration law in a meeting chaired by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Many of Edinburgh’s restaurant owners say they are increasingly being “made to feel like criminals”, with raids having a serious impact on their business. One individual – who asked to remain anony- mous – said: “My businesses have been raided twice in the last three years and on both occasions my employees’ doc- uments were found to all be legal and above board.” On both occasions, the


businessman’s restaurant’s was raided by over 50 UKBA officers at 7:30pm on a Saturday evening, causing all of his customers to leave.


The restaurant industry understands and supports the need to punish offend- ers but that at present the current system for assessing employee eligibil- ity is too complex and time consuming. Asaddar Ali, chair of the Bangladeshi Catering Association of Scotland, com- mented: “A lot of our members have had problems with the UKBA. My own premises were once raided and the officials couldn’t decide whether a passport belonging to my waiter was genuine, and they had to contact the Home Office to find out. I ask you, if the UKBA have problems in spotting a


genuine passport then what hope do restaurateurs have?”


Figures show that between 2010 and 2011, 356 raids were carried out in Scotland and Northern Ireland by the UKBA and that these led to 365 arrests. Restaurants can be fined up to £10,000 for every illegal immigrant found on their premises.


A spokesperson for UKBA said: “We make no apology for enforcing our immigration laws. Businesses which employ illegal workers undermine law- abiding firms. Those businesses that do not want enforcement visits should not employ illegal workers. Those who do will be fined.”


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Spice Business Magazine 33 Sept/Oct 2012


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