16 illegal Indian immigrants held in UK



London: Britain's immigration officials have arrested 16 Indians described as illegal immigrants during an operation targeted at homeless people who sleep below a bridge in Heston, west London.

The Home Office said the operation was conducted yesterday in the London borough of Hounslow.

The 16 Indians, all males, were arrested for a variety of immigration offences and efforts would be made to send them to India as soon as possible, officials said.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: "This is one example of the tough action being taken by officers across the country to find and remove those who are in the UK illegally."

He added: "We are also making it more difficult for illegal migrants to obtain free healthcare, financial products and access to benefits ? and businesses found employing an illegal migrant can be fined up to 10,000 pounds per illegal worker."

Harper said those who did not have the right to be in the UK should leave voluntarily, and promised help to do so. But, "if they refuse we will enforce their removal", he said.

Since May, a targeted UK Border Agency operation has resulted in more than 2,000 overstayers based in London leaving the UK, which included more than 700 enforced returns, the Home Office added.

PTI