Home Office Immigration Enforcement officers raided the Alternative Tuck Shop on Holywell St on Wednesday afternoon and arrested two staff members for illegally entering the UK.
A spokesperson for the Home Office told Cherwell, “Acting on intelligence, Home Office Immigration Enforcement officers visited [the] Alternative Tuck Shop on Holywell Street in Oxford at around 1pm on Wednesday 29 May, where they carried out immigration checks on members of staff.
“Two people were arrested for entering the UK illegally, a 26-year-old man from Bangladesh and a 27-year-old man from Algeria. “The Bangladeshi man was detained pending his removal from the UK, while the Algerian was granted immigration bail while the Home Office deals with his case.”
He also explained the potential consequence the ATS may face because of these arrests: “The business will now have to provide proof to the Home Office that the correct right-to-work checks were carried out on the men or they will be fined up to £10,000 per worker for employing them.”
UK employers are required by law to run checks on potential employees to make sure that they have the right to work in the UK. The checks consist of taking copies of original documents that prove that the person concerned is allowed to work. Employers must also ensure that work they give does not infringe on any restrictions on the type of work that their potential employees can do.
If a person’s right to work is affected by time limits, employers have to renew their checks on documents every year. It is also illegal knowingly to employ an illegal worker even if the relevant checks have been carried out. After the arrests the ATS temporarily closed.
Stuart O’Reilly, a student at Pembroke, who stood as the UKIP candidate for St Clement’s and Cowley Marsh in the recent county council elections, offered his more general thoughts on illegal immigration, commenting, “If [the ATS staff arrested] were working illegally then it means that they probably aren’t paying tax, they aren’t fully protected by the law and they don’t necessarily get the minimum wage.
He continued, “The reason we have these laws on employment in place is for the protection of workers’ rights and to ensure that vacancies are fairly advertised. This is why there is such thing as legal and illegal immigration and eligibility to work, and I hope these laws are being enforced.”
Nico Hobhouse, Co-Chair of Oxford University Liberal Democrats, commented, “Illegal immigration is, by definition, illegal. Migrants and their employers should abide by UK laws that regulate immigration.
“However, we should not confuse the problem of illegal immigration with immigration in general. Most immigration benefits the economy and enriches our society and we should be careful not to react too strongly to instances such as those at the Alternative Tuck Shop.”
One Lincoln second year commented, “Having travelled the long and dusty pilgramage from the Turl to Holywell St for my daily Chicken Satay Baguette (no salad), I reached the hallowed entrance to the most established Tuck Shop in Oxford, but was apologetically turned away by a member of staff who ushered a man in a security guard-style uniform inside.
She added, “They said they would re-open in an hour, but unable to wait so long for my warm sandwich I instead turned to Taylor’s for a Cajun Chicken and Brie Flatbread, and so I can’t confirm how long the shop was closed for.”