Zimbabwean "illegals" nabbed at Currys

A total of ten illegal immigrants were found to have been working without permission at the Currys distribution depot in the midlands town which lies around 30km north-east of Nottingham.

The raid, undertaken by officers from the UK Border Agency occurred at 2pm on Wednesday this week and was run in collaboration with members of the local police constabulary.

The historic market town of Newark in Nottinghamshire has become the latest location of efforts by British immigration officials to eliminate the practice of employing illegal immigrants.

Currys is a radio, computer and television outlet which operates a large online distribution service and has depots across the UK.

The company had contacted the UKBA to ask for their assistance as it had become suspicious about some of the documentation used by members of its workforce that were presented in order to gain employment.

The raid found ten workers at the Newark depot had forged identification documents in order to secure employment all of whom were arrested and taken for questioning at the Newark police station.

The workers, predominantly from Zimbabwe, will face forced removal from the UK by the agency after investigations into criminal activity have been completed.

The UKBA has been working hard to stop illegal workers and organisations which lure illegal immigrants to the UK. The practice is considered unfair on honest employers and also harmful to local workers who suffer job shortages and pay reductions.

The UKBA commended Currys and said it will continue to work together with community minded recruiters to secure Britain’s borders. No legal action will be taken against Currys owing to its proactive stance on the issue.

Thousands of Zimbabwean asylum seekers are to benefit from the relaxation of immigration laws by the British government.

From July, the UK government quietly loosened the immigration rules for asylum seekers in order to clear a backlog of cases. The British government two years ago halted its policy of returning Zimbabwean asylum seekers because of the dire political situation.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees describes an asylum seeker as an individual who has sought international protection and whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined.

SW Radio Africa can reveal that in the last few months, hundreds of failed asylum seekers from the MDC were granted leave to remain in UK after their cases were reviewed on an individual basis.

Reports in the British media on Friday said as a result of the changes, some 40,000 immigrants who had moved to the UK from Zimbabwe, Iran and other troubled countries have been told they can stay in the UK.

Jaison Matewu, the organising secretary of the MDC-UK, told us Home Office figures show that 20,000 Zimbabweans applied for refugee status in the UK in the last nine years and that slightly over 8,000 have been granted.

Matewu said they’ve always been lobbying the UK government to give asylum seekers the right to work while their claims were being processed by the Home Office.

‘We’ve never stopped lobbying the government to allow those who can, to work, as their ineligibility for state benefits had rendered many destitute,’ Matewu said.

The 40,000 are among a backlog of 450,000 asylum cases which British ministers have pledged to clear by 2011. According to reports Phil Woolas, the UK immigration minister, wrote a memo suggesting that asylum applicants from countries with poor human rights records should be granted leave to remain in the UK if they have been living in the UK for 4-6 years.

Previously the rules stated that they must have been living in the country for 10-12 years before being granted leave to remain indefinitely. Woolas denied the new rules amounted to an amnesty.

‘There is no amnesty. Our guidelines were updated to provide case workers with a simple framework to judge cases, and to avoid long, drawn-out court battles. Less than 40 per cent of cases are being granted,’ he said.

Last year, Zimbabwe had the second-highest number of people seeking asylum in industrialised countries, according to a United Nations report released in July.

The report said the countries of origin showing a significant rise in applications for asylum due to unrest or conflict last year included Afghanistan, up 85%, Zimbabwe up 82%, Somalia, up 77% and Nigeria up 71%.