How Chinatown is striking back at immigration 'fishing' raids London's Chinese community says it is tired of its businesses being ethnically targeted by UKBA officials For two hours this Tuesday afternoon, London's Chinatown saw all its businesses close down, and employers and staff walk out. They all left work in order to demonstrate on the streets against the UK Border Agency, which has mounted a series of raids on the many restaurants in the area in search of illegal migrant workers. "NO ENTRY, UKBA!" were the words on their placards: Chinatown was on strike â€“ and it was a ba-shi strike, meaning stopping business, as opposed to ba-gong, a workers' strike. The usually silent communities were suddenly making their voices heard. The local Chinese communities have been angry for a long time. Since 2008 its catering industry has been rocked by immigration raids: its employees make up 31% of all those arrested in the entire UK catering industry and its employers make up 29% of those fined, according to the UKBA immigration raids statistics. As a result, not only is the Chinese catering industry faced with a lasting labour shortage crisis, but tens of thousands of undocumented workers face high levels of job insecurity and low wages. These workers are fathers and mothers trying to improve life for their families back home. Having become undocumented, many of them are unable to return home as they are unable to prove their identities. The majority have lived and worked here for years and could be eligible for legal status if the previous government's legacy scheme was reintroduced to clear the backlog of asylum cases. But what brought this to a head was that, in the last six weeks, 13 Chinatown restaurants were raided. Worse still, few believe these raids are intelligence-based as the UKBA claimed. Minquan (a Chinese rights group under the Monitoring Group) and the London Chinatown Chinese Association have labelled them mere fishing raids. One restaurant had its workers arrested and was later told it was "a mistake". "Immigration officers were rude and abusive. They did not behave professionally," said Bobby Chan, Minquan's organiser and a legal caseworker. In one restaurant, a worker who couldn't speak English was allegedly called a "stupid idiot" by an immigration officer. In another restaurant, it's claimed that a worker's Â£1,000 cash was confiscated and went missing after he was detained. A number of restaurant workers who went on strike said they believe they have been targeted because of their ethnicity. In the current political climate of clamping down on immigration, incidents of spot checks and arrests have become dinner-table conversation. Many legal Chinese residents in Brent, for instance, talk about having experienced random spot checks that targeted people on the basis of their ethnicity. Several undocumented Chinese builders I know working in Stratford and Shoreditch have had to avoid going through the underground stations and walk to work instead. Currently, there have been 130 arrests all over the country. And these are conducted in such callous ways that it has deepened more frustration and anger. Chan himself recently received a text asking him to leave the UK, despite the fact he has lived in the UK since 1973 and has a British passport. Guy Taylor of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants says: "We should not forget the real victims of the raids: those arrested, detained and deported to very uncertain futures. "There is a high level of exploitation of workers, especially undocumented workers, in Chinatown, as there is anywhere else in the country â€¦ A successful business can recover from a few hours' loss of income and even a Â£10,000 fine, but an undocumented worker will face a lifetime of hardship if caught in such a raid." How ironic that only last week the British chancellor George Osborne made a high-profile trip to China in a desperate bid to lure its top investors to the UK. He was awed by the scale of China's economic growth and said Britain "needs to be more like China". But in his love for China's money and its model of development, he seems to have forgotten the vast majority of its people. Osborne opens his arms to welcome in China's millionaire capitalists and said Britain sets no limit on trade with China and the number of Chinese businesses coming here. But he wants to shut out the people without capital â€“ those left out by the growth who are trying to change their own and their families' lives by working abroad. Many British Chinese, first and second generations, are witnessing how this government's immigration policies are impacting on their communities. How will this treatment provide a suitable environment for Chinese businesses in Britain? Perhaps the message is that Britain isn't such a good place for investment after all? How Chinatown is striking back at immigration 'fishing' raids | Hsiao-Hung Pai | Comment is free | theguardian.com ************************************************ I wonder why the UKBA is raiding the Chinese for illegals. The Chinese Govt stridently claims that it is a peaceful loving nation. And the Chinese claim they are very law abiding. So, why the raids, and that too on Chinese cooks and waiters? It maybe true that since 2008 teh British catering industry has employees that make up 31% of all those arrested in the entire UK catering industry and its employers make up 29% of those fined. And how can one be so heartless to not realise that they are fathers and mothers trying to improve life for their families back home. For, after all China may not be that rich as maybe it is claimed by the statistics given by the the Chinese Govt. After all, if China was that rich, why should they go abroad, live in alien conditions, to earn when money is available at home? It is unfortunate that "Immigration officers were rude and abusive. They did not behave professionally". They could learn some professional etiquettes from China, maybe. English is not the last word for intelligence, even in Britain, and that the immigration authority should have known and so he should not have said to the Chinese worker who couldn't speak English that he was a "stupid idiot"! If there was a high level of exploitation of workers, especially undocumented workers, in Chinatown, what so earth shaking about that? The Chinese take exploitation as par for the course in China and they are used to it. So, why the hoop la? No, sir, this is not cricket.