London Chinatown protests UKBA raids
Updated: 2013-10-23 09:07
By Zhang Chunyan in London (chinadaily.com.cn)
Restaurants and shops across London Chinatown shut down on Tuesday in a protest against what business owners describe as "discriminatory" raids by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
The strike lasted for two hours on Tuesday afternoon. Hundreds of protesters filled Gerrard Street, the heart of Chinatown in central London. Some people carried a big banner saying, "Say No to UKBA Fishing Raids in Chinatown."
According to the London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA), UKBA has conducted over 13 raids in recent months, "fishing" for illegal immigrants, and that they were heavy-handed and not intelligence-based.
Many raids ended with no arrests, and some business owners claimed the raids were not conducted in accordance with lawful procedures.
"The effect of this failure has led to a cycle of discriminatory raids and financial penalties against Chinese businesses," organizers of the rally said.
Lawrence Cheng, secretary general of LCCA, which organized the action, said the raids damaged Chinatown's business and image.
"These raids are disruptive, putting owners in a shutdown situation while UKBA officers stay as long as they like," Cheng said.
"We are not trying to justify employing illegal immigrants, but these raids have to happen in the right way."
The protest came weeks after UKBA spot checks were started at key London subway stations, in what critics said might involve racial stereotyping.
It also came amid continuing controversy over the "go home" vans, a pilot program by the Home Office that has now been canceled in the face of widespread criticism.
The Home Office said all enforcement operations by UKBA officers were intelligence-based, according to the Guardian. It added: "We have met community leaders in Chinatown to discuss our work, but we are clear businesses must carry out the correct checks on the staff they employ."