Mayor's Oral Update (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
October 23, 2013
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Organisation: 
Labour Group

Question

Did you know that whilst you were swanning around doing your photo opportunities in Beijing with George Osborne, at home the UK Border Agency (UKBA) was harassing Chinese businesses in Chinatown?  There have been 11 big raids since July.  That is almost one a week and more often than not they do not find anyone illegal.  It is not intelligence-led.  These are fishing expeditions.

It has reached the stage that yesterday afternoon all the shops and businesses in Chinatown, 200 or more, closed for two hours in protest because they were very angry at the disruptive and discriminatory fishing raids by the Border Agency.  They think they have become easy targets for the UKBA to attack.  These raids are damaging the reputation of Chinatown and Chinese businesses and create and reinforce the negative stereotypes of Chinese people.

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Mayor's Oral Update (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Mayor's Oral Update (Supplementary) [1]

Obviously, I deprecate any activities by the UKBA that are discriminatory or unnecessarily hostile to any community in our city and I have made that clear time and time again.  If they have been heavy-handed in this instance, then certainly we will get on to it and we will take the necessary actions.

However, it is absolutely vital in a great city that depends on talented people coming here to make their lives that we have a serious policy towards illegal immigration and we do something to make sure that illegal immigrants know where they stand and know that they have broken the law because what they are doing is undermining the hard work and all the effort that legal applicants have made to go through the system and do things properly.  I think it is entirely fair and right that there should be a distinction drawn between those who come here legally and those who are not here in accordance with the law.

Yes, I am perfectly prepared to look at what the UKBA was up to.  As you know perfectly well, Andrew, we do not control the UKBA here in London, unfortunately, but I will certainly look at what they have done.  If it has been heavy-handed, I will certainly listen to what the Chinese community in Chinatown has to say about those actions.

However, I am not in any way going to resile from or dismiss the notion that you have to be tough on illegal immigration.  Frankly, if I may say so, it was the active decision of the Labour Government whenever it was, whenever they were in power, to turn a complete blind eye that undermined immigration in the eyes of many people in this country.  You should think about that because it did serious social damage.