London: Amid a row over the UK government`s controversial anti-immigrant campaign, a British Sikh leader has claimed that many illegal immigrants from India are keen to return home.
Gurmel Singh-Kandola, secretary-general of the Sikh Council, said that he believes there are a number of Indians from Punjab and Delhi, who entered the UK illegally and are now stuck here unable to work or fund their return without proper documentation.
"Many of them have been trafficked by unscrupulous agents who take a lot of money from them. In fact they are stuck. They want to go home on a voluntary basis and what we need is processes to facilitate that," he said.
"Their plight is well known; they are sleeping very rough under bridges and in multiple occupancies, sometimes in sheds in the back of people`s gardens. We have been quite concerned about the abject poverty in which they are living," he said.
The Sikh Council has initiated talks with the Home Office to see how it can prepare to help illegal immigrants return to their home countries.
After receiving 60 complaints against the Home Office`s "Go Home" ad-vans circulating around Britain in the last few weeks, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched an investigation.
"Complainants have expressed concerns that the ad, in particular the phrase `Go Home`, is offensive and irresponsible because it is reminiscent of slogans used by racist groups to attack immigrants in the past and could incite or exacerbate racial hatred and tensions in multicultural communities," an ASA spokesperson said.
"If it (ad van) said something like, `If you want to go home contact this number` or `assistance is available to return home`, I think it would have been the same message but delivered more softly," Singh-Kandola told the Daily Mail.
The ASA`s probe comes in addition to another investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into a wave of immigration checks across the country.
The EHRC launched the probe after it was claimed that the spot checks - conducted at transport hubs up and down the country - were being carried out by border officials purely on the basis of ethnicity.