The government announces a crackdown on illegal workers employed in the UK as the Calais migrant crisis continues.
Raids on “rogue” bosses who are employing illegal immigrants will be stepped up as part of the crackdown.
Businesses that employ workers who do not have permission to work in the UK will be hit with “the full force of government machinery”, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire warned.
He said that many people employing illegal immigrants do not pay workers proper wages or contribute enough tax. By employing such people, employers are denying UK citizens work and driving down wages, he added.
A London School of Economics study has estimated that there are 618,000 “irregular”, unregistered residents in the UK, all of whom would not be allowed to work legally.
The campaign group Migration Watch said the figures is closer to 1.1 million.
The focus of the raids by immigrations officials is likely to be on cleaning firms, building sites and care homes.
Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said the Home Office should “still do more”.
Employers can be fined up to £20,000 per person and jailed for up to two years for employing illegal workers.
Mr Brokenshire said: “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.”
The crackdown coincides with the Calais migrant crisis, with many desperate to enter Britain and begin a new life.
Although a UN envoy has accused Britain of racism towards the “courageous” migrants trying to cross the Channel from Calais, the government has remained bullish in its stance that British communities cannot absorb them.
François Crepeau, the UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, compared their attempts to sneak into the UK to westerners taking a “vacation in Thailand”.
However Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, said that it was not possible for the EU to absorb “millions”! more immigrants and called on Brussels to change the law to make it easier to send them home.
Separately a man has been arrested after 17 suspected “illegal immigrants” believed to be from Vietnam were found in a lorry on the M1.
Police stopped a lorry on the M1 motorway after a member of the public alerted them to suspicious activity involving the vehicle.
The driver, a 40-year-old polish man, has been arrested.