A Welsh Labour MP has claimed that Asian restaurants are being unfairly targeted by raids by UK immigration authorities.
Nia Griffith claimed that the Home Office had a tendency to conduct raids on a Friday or Saturday night when restaurants tend to be at their busiest. She said that some business owners are concerned that they could be losing money and customers as a result of the investigations.
A meeting at the House of Commons was held for Asian restaurant owners to address the issue directly to Welsh MPs. The BBC reported that a number of restaurant owners told the MPs about their experiences with immigration officers.
Ana Miah, who owns an establishment in Cardiff that was raided last year, explained that her main issue was with the way in which the raids were conducted: “The officers come in, shut the doors, gather the staff into one room and the restaurant is basically shut down and we're not allowed to answer the phone or even speak to customers waiting outside.”
Griffith dubbed the methods “nothing short of disgraceful”, adding that businesses were suffering in both financial terms and with regards to their reputation.
Karen Bradley, Home Office Minister, has responded to the accusations by saying that she does not intend to apologise for 'enforcing immigration law'. She said: “I recognise the disturbance and I sympathise with the concerns raised but the busy times are also when we are able to maximise the likelihood of achieving a successful outcome.”
Home Office raids are generally conducted to identify illegal workers that have either overstayed their UK visas or are working without a valid visa. Substantial fines are imposed on companies that do not carry out the legally required checks to prevent illegal working.