Seven Asian people who broke immigration or employment rules are set to be removed from the UK, after being discovered working at a string of food outlets.
They were found after an operation spanning the counties of Londonderry, Antrim and Down.
Firstly, on November 21, a Malaysian man (46) was arrested when he was discovered working illegally at China Express on Main Street, Crumlin, along with two Chinese men aged 46 and 32.
On November 28 at Aarong Indian restaurant on Catherine Street, Limavady, two Bangladeshi men working at the premises – both 24 – were found to be in the country illegally.
On December 4 at Golden Seaside on The Square, Kilkeel, three Chinese men – one aged 27, and the others aged 50 – were found to be in the country illegally, and on December 5, a 51-year-old Chinese woman who was in the country illegally was discovered working at Lagan Palace on Ormeau Road, Belfast.
All those arrested are now in detention awaiting removal from the country, except the two Chinese men at the China Express, whose must report to the Home Office while their cases are being progressed.
This is different from deportation, which concerns those convicted of criminal offences.
Those who are now being removed can still return to their home countries and apply through the proper channels to enter the UK, while those who have been deported are barred from making such an application for 10 years.
The businesses were each served with a notice warning that a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker will be imposed unless proof is provided that the correct right-to-work checks were carried out such as seeing a passport or official Home Office document.
Mike Golden, from the Scotland & Northern Ireland Immigration Enforcement Team, said: “As these operations show, we are working hard to arrest and remove those who abuse the UK’s immigration system.
“Using illegal labour is not a victimless crime. It cheats the taxpayer, undercuts businesses who ply an honest trade and deprives legitimate job seekers of employment opportunities.
“There are simple checks employers can carry out to ensure their employees have the right to work in the UK. Those who choose to ignore the rules will face the consequences.
“I would urge anyone with detailed and specific information about suspected immigration abuse to contact us.”
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact www.gov.uk/report-immigration-crime or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.