Nearly 100 people, including some Indians and Pakistanis, working illegally across the UK’s nail salons have been arrested, authorities said on Wednesday. The crackdown led by the UK’s Immigration Enforcement unit as part of Operation Magnify, targeting UK businesses most suspected of employing illegal workers, involved the arrest of 97 people, a majority of them Vietnamese nationals, but also included immigrants from India and Pakistan as well as Mongolia, Ghana, China and Nigeria.
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Those who are potential victims of human trafficking will be offered support, while those who have no right to be in the UK will be removed, the UK Home Office said.
UK Immigration officers visited the nail salons, also known as nail bars, in Edinburgh, London and Cardiff between November 27 and December 3.
They have also sent warnings to 68 businesses that they will pay 20,000 pounds per illegal worker if they cannot prove that they carried out appropriate right-to-work document checks.
“This operation sends a strong message to those employers who ruthlessly seek to exploit vulnerable people and wilfully abuse our immigration laws.
“Modern slavery is a barbaric crime which destroys the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society,” said UK immigration minister Robert Goodwill.
He added: “This government has taken world-leading action to tackle it by introducing the Modern Slavery Act, giving law enforcement agencies the tools they need and increasing support and protection for victims.
“At the same time, we have also introduced strong measures through the Immigration Act to tackle illegal working, including making it easier to prosecute employers who repeatedly break the rules and creating the power to temporarily close businesses that do not comply with the law.”
Operation Magnify is an initiative aimed at tackling exploitative employers who provide low-paid jobs to illegal migrants.
It has focused on “at risk” industries such as construction, care, cleaning, catering, taxi and car wash industries during 2016, with further activity in similar sectors planned for 2017.