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UKBA zeroes in on festivals to catch immigration offenders

Operations carried with full support, co-operation of festival organisers 6th August 2010: The UK Border Agency officers are zeroing in on music and other festivals to catch hold of immigration offenders. For the purpose of conducting the operation, the UKBA seeks full support and co-operation of the festival organisers.

Immigration Officer Emma Engutsamy from the local immigration team for Herts and Essex says they are resolute to clean-up immigration abuse wherever they find it, including major music festivals.

The drive forms a part of a nationwide summer campaign to tackle illegal working, sham marriages, bogus colleges and organised immigration crime.

The assertion came soon after five immigration offenders were arrested during the Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth.

UK Border Agency officers arrested three Mongolian men, 24, 22 and a 20 year old when they visited the festival site on Thursday on 29 July.

The 20 year old had overstayed his visa and the 24 year old was an illegal entrant.

The 22 year old, who had overstayed his visa, was caught working illegally at Gourmet Burger and Fries and the business now faces a potentially large fine of up to £10,000 unless it can prove that the correct pre-employment checks were undertaken.

Following a UK Border Agency briefing, on Saturday 31 July and Sunday 1 August officers from Herts Constabulary arrested two festival goers for immigration offences.

Both men a 32 year old Nigerian and a 26 year old South African were visa overstayers.

The UK Border Agency is now working to remove the offenders from the country.

The operation was conducted with the full support and co-operation of the festival organisers.

Engutsamy elaborates:  ‘Our first visit to Sonisphere has proved extremely productive. As well as the arrests, we have also gathered useful intelligence and been able to raise public awareness of our work.

‘We are determined to crack down on immigration abuse wherever we find it, including major music festivals like Sonisphere.’

Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, has already made it clear that: ‘The Government has tasked the UK Border Agency with carrying out an intense period of enforcement activity over the summer. We are determined to create a hostile environment which makes it harder than ever for illegal immigrants to come to the UK and put down roots.

‘Illegal immigration puts untold pressure on public services at a time when this country cannot afford to support people not entitled to it. That’s why the UK Border Agency is working day in, day out to cut out the routes – such as sham marriages, bogus colleges and organised traffickers – being used by foreign nationals to try and stay in the UK permanently.’

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