Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 12:45 UK

Three quizzed in migration probe

Fauji looks out of curtained window in fauji house
One of the illegals as seen on the BBC documentary

Three men have been arrested following a BBC News investigation into one of the UK's largest illegal immigrant communities.

They are being interviewed by the police and the UK Border Agency in connection with immigration offences and a forgery racket in west London.

A team of BBC reporters spent months undercover and exposed a network targeting young Punjabi men.

Those men were living illegally in Southall, west London.

Border and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said: "This is fresh evidence for why ID cards are needed so urgently and why it is so misguided to propose shutting our new system down.

"We now hit businesses hard if they employ illegal immigrants. In four months this year we've hit over 33 times the numbers of businesses prosecuted last year. But businesses need to know who is legitimately here and that is why cards are so important."

The BBC News investigation identified more than 40 houses packed with illegal immigrants in one square mile of Southall.

The young, mostly male Punjabis are not lawfully in Britain and they have few legal rights.

They are known as "Faujis", a Punjabi term colloquially used to describe illegal immigrants, and are mostly poor farmers from the Punjab in India.

Mr Byrne praised "the swift action of the authorities".

The use of ID cards as a way to deal with illegal immigration was dismissed by Damian Green, the shadow minister for immigration.

He told BBC News: "The government's ID cards will be documents of the sort that can be faked with a fingerprint attached so the individual, illegal immigrant coming in will be able to have their fingerprint put on an illegal document.

"Also, even if this government stays in power for the next 10 years or so ID cards won't be with us until the middle of the next decade. This is a problem that is happening now on our streets - it needs solving now."

Keith Vaz MP, the Home Affairs Select Committee Chairman, told BBC News that the government is not doing enough to tackle the problem of illegal immigrants.

He said: "What they ought to be doing is trying to find out who is responsible for these gangs, finding out who they are and then prosecuting them.

"I'm astonished with the amount of money that's gone into enforcement that the Immigration Minister has not taken a much greater interest in what is going on."


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