More than 250 construction workers face deportation as part of a Home Office crackdown on illegal immigrants working in ‘risk’ industries.
A total of 257 people were arrested in 69 separate raids in October as part of ‘Operation Magnify’, which focuses on illegal working in the construction, care and cleaning industries.
The majority of those arrested were Indian nationals, as well as workers from Albania, Nigeria and Pakistan.
The construction industry phase of the operation unearthed 74 suspected breaches of illegal working legislation.
The operation saw Immigration Enforcement work with other government agencies including HMRC, the Health and Safety Executive and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire said: “Illegal working undermines legitimate employers, drives down wages and denies employment to hard-working UK citizens and legal migrants.
“Operation Magnify is all about disrupting illegal working and making life impossible for employers who do not play by the rules. The results show that the cross government approach is working.
“We are sending out a strong message by extending this initiative to other employment sectors.
“While we are happy to work with those businesses to help them carry out the right checks on their staff, those who do not play by the rules could face severe financial consequences.”
A total of £1.48m in civil penalties could be issued to employers as a result of the raids.
The single largest potential penalty could be issued to Sword Construction, which saw one of its sites raided in Chester on 12 October 2015.
This resulted in the arrest of 20 illegal workers, with the firm facing a potential penalty of £400,000.
During 2016, Operation Magnify will continue to focus on construction in 2016, as well as being extended to other sectors such as taxi and private hire drivers, street markets, catering and agriculture.