Undocumented Immigrants

The control practice of the public services
The Immigration Authority and the police
The perspective for migrants: The Polish community
The Kurdish/Turkish community

[see also: United Kingdom: The new state racism and the philosophy of deterrence]

"A lot of people go to England. We often talked about it, so I went too."

When studying the situation of so - called illegals in Britain, it must be noted that up to very recently, almost no one, even from the anti - racist movement, wanted to discuss it. Even now, it is largely considered a taboo subject, a matter which no one really wants to be implicated in1. "No one wants to touch it", was therefore a typical response to our research on the situation of Undocumented Immigrant Workers in London, a study which serves as the basis for this article2. This widespread caution among those affected, as well as among activists, can only partially be explained by safety considerations. It derives more from a feeling of weakness and the fear of not being able to counteract the dominant view of illegals as criminals, guilty of scrounging, social security fraud and trafficking. Support groups counter the stereotypes and criminalisation attempts especially with the justification that the majority of migrants today are seeking protection, and are therefore legitimate refugees. However, by confining the public debate on migrants to the defence of the right to asylum, a practice which equates the plethora of present migration movements with refugee movements justified by the fear of persecution, the majority of the Left is in danger of continuing to ignore the situation of migrants without papers.
Once the research project had started however, it became evident that the urge - by migrants as well as activists and legal assistants - to think and talk seriously about people without papers was very strong. Everyone was aware of the phenomenon and everybody had their own experiences. Many of the migrants currently working in support agencies have once followed themselves the path of clandestine or irregular entry. Despite this, there has been no attempt to draw these experiences together. On the one hand, the network of support, self-help and advice groups is particularly dense in London, where about 50% of all ethnic minorities and 85% of all refugees live. Almost every newly arrived refugee can find a community of fellow countrymen and women. On the other hand, there is no adequate examination of and reaction to the phenomenon of irregular forms of migration, residence and work. Britain's immigration and asylum policies are based on the Immigration Act (1971), the Nationality Act (1981) and the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act (1993). The regulation of immigration is particularly concentrated on the control of immigration, that is, the initial ports of entry. Because Britain is not signatory to the Schengen Treaty, the surveillance of the EU's external borders is extremely strict. Only the entry via Ireland and Northern Ireland is less strictly controlled. Visa requirements (pre-entry clearance) are currently laid down for about 120 states. Due to the strong anti-racist movement and culture, stop and search operations within the country, which would affect first and foremost non-white (including British) nationals, are highly contested. For decades now, activists have been fighting against internal police controls. The British anti-discrimination legislation3 serves as a more or less effective tool which prescribes severe sentences for proven violations. However, due to the decline in the black4 resistance movement5 , one can unfortunately expect a weakening of the resistance towards internal identity checks. Although official sources still portray border control as the main pillar of the state's immigration policy, reports emphasise the increasing importance of internal controls6 . By comparison with the surveillance agencies at the borders however, the authorities within the country are not well equiped in personnel and technical terms.
"You can feel, and be, free here, in contrast to Germany, which is a country based on a police regime. I have lived in Germany; there, the police will stop you anywhere and ask for your passport, ask a lot of questions, where you come from, what you are doing and so forth. You have no problems entering but then the difficulties begin. You are under observation everywhere."
(Zbigniew, interview)

Since the beginning of the 1990's however, British authorities have started to make social and public services dependent on a legal residence permit. Since 1997, employers are forced to check employees' documents, which certify the permission to work. The employment of people without a residence or work permit is now considered a criminal offence. For a long time, the arrest of irregular immigrants could more or less be attributed to denunciations. However, more recently the police have been using special units to find illegals. Since 1998, the New Labour government has also made the detention and subsequent deportation of rejected asylum seekers a top priority. The particularity of Britain's immigration politics lies in the history of its imperial Empire and the still existing Commonwealth. On the one hand, the ethnic minority population of Asian, Afro-Caribbean and African origin (around 4.5 million people) can be traced primarily to the post-war migration from the former colonies. These people are British citizens with full rights, not 'foreigners'. On the other hand, there are special immigration rules and practices for people from the present Commonwealth, a fact which often allows for exceptions and special regulations. Residency in England for the purpose of university studies, training courses, language courses or working holidays (working holiday makers) is - compared to the German policy - encouraged through uncomplicated immigration formalities which entail several legal frameworks. (This situation is linked to the foreign policy considerations of a former Empire, whereby the visit of the kingdom is supposed to serve the expansion and survival of British language and culture in the whole world.) Despite the immigration facilitation mentioned above, all non-white Commonwealth citizens are under the general suspicion of entering Britain illegally.
Altogether, around 70 million entries are registered every year at British borders and airports: 45 million Britons, 14 million EU-citizens and 10 million non-EU citizens. Up to 70,000 people have to undergo far-reaching checks, from luggage inspection and questioning as to their country of origin and purpose of the visit, to phone calls verifying invitations, as well as authenticity checks of documents. In 1995, almost 20,000 people were refused entry. First and foremost these were Polish citizens, then stateless persons and people with a US-American, Nigerian, Jamaican and South African passport. Up to the present, the yearly figure of expulsion procedures lies around 5,000. In 1994, more than half of those affected (2,800) had been deported or 'removed' to the last country they travelled through before arriving in Britain. The remainder left the country 'voluntarily' after an expulsion order. New Labour has now been increasing enforcement figures to 38,000, including 6,400 deportations in 1999. There are places for around 500 people in eight detention centres7 which are partly run by private firms. Another 500 people are detained under Immigration Act powers in 'prison establishments'. The majority of those detained are asylum seekers. For a long time, the danger of being imprisoned from the moment of application was greater than being imprisoned at the end of the asylum procedure. However, for the last two years, the practice of the authorities has changed: there are now more deportations and imprisonments after the rejection of an asylum application.
Up to 1996, the treatment of refugees in Britain had been comparatively liberal. It was the conditions of entry that were restrictive (visa requirements and the inspection and punishment of carrier companies for the transport of passengers without the appropriate travel documents, amongst others). Those who did manage to enter the country had free choice of residency, a right to all social services, for example social security benefits, housing benefit or accommodation in council flats (public housing), as well as the right to a working permit. However, with the increasing number of asylum applications (1986: 4,000; 1995: 44,000), the first campaigns against the "abuse" of the asylum system, "bogus" asylum seekers and "benefit scroungers" were initiated by political parties and the media. For the present, the height of the legal restrictions is presented by the Asylum and Immigration Act (1996) as well as the Social Security (Persons from abroad) Miscellaneous Amendment Regulations (1995). Authorities now differentiate between applications at the borders and within the country, whereby those who only apply for asylum after their entry are refused any social security support. The intended deterrence resulted in a decline of all registered asylum applications by 25% (29,000 asylum applications in 1996). In the meantime however, there have been precedence cases brought before the High Court which oblige local authorities to provide support under the National Assistance Act of 1948, which foresees that those in need have to be supplied with accommodation and food. The councils responsible have reacted to this obligation with accommodation in bed & breakfasts and in some cases with mass accommodations. Instead of social security benefits, refugees only obtain food vouchers. Apart from that, there are no further services. The supply of clothing, bedding etc. is laid at the door of churches and other humanitarian organisations. Around half of all asylum seekers in Britain today are affected by this regulation.
Parallel to this, the possibilities of taking up employment was reduced. According to the new regulations, asylum seekers are only allowed to request a working permit after 6 months of being resident in the country, then the processing of the claim takes at least another six months. Contrary to the hope of many that New Labour would at least lift this restriction, the government drafted the White Paper on Asylum and Immigration in 1998 instead. Under the heading "Fairer, Firmer, Faster", the newly defined state's handling of refugees is nothing but a copy of the German model and, in practice, entails reallocation and dispersal, mass accommodation, private/semi- public management and full catering provisions (with the exclusion of selfcatering).
The fight against irregular immigration has always been a central component of British immigration and asylum politics. In the 1960's and 70's the public gaze was directed especially towards people from the Indian subcontinent and the English-speaking Caribbean, later towards relatives of first generation immigrants. In 1977, an amnesty led to the regularisation of around 5,000 persons "without papers". With the following changes in visa requirements, and the general intensification of the restriction in asylum, immigration and naturalisation formalities in the 1980's and 90's, the only possibility for most migrants to enter the UK became that of extralegal entry, that is, illegal residency. Authorities nowadays distinguish between clandestine entry, open entry with false claims or papers (illegal entry), the refusal to leave after a limited legal residency (overstaying) and the disappearance and going underground of refugees and migrants after a rejected asylum application or after the expiry of limited immigration or residency allowances and those subject to certain conditions (absconding). At present there are few official statistics or estimates about the overall volume of irregular immigration into Britain. In a BBC broadcast of 1997 there was mention of around 20,000 "illegal entries" a year8 . In 1993, 10,300 violations against immigration rules were registered. In 1994, official figures counted 10,000 people without work permits as well as 4,300 cases of illegal entry and in 1995, 4,500 false passports and documents were registered9 . In 1987 already, the Association of Immigration Officers estimated - albeit for propaganda reasons - the number of the refused and 'absconded' asylum seekers at around 44,00010 . However, this figure was never confirmed by the government. There is, without doubt, always a political motivation behind official statistics. It is also certain, that in all communities in London, as well as other bigger cities today, there are more and more people living without legal residency status, where irregular work and working conditions - similar to the shadow economy - form the every day reality of these communities. The fewer legal immigration-, residency-, or work opportunities there are, the more migration and residency processes outside legal frameworks can be find; that is not 'illegally', but extralegally11.
The strong liberal tradition, which pervades many areas of British society up to today and gives civil rights and individuals' freedoms primacy over state intervention or control, also has an influence on the living conditions of irregular migrants. There is neither a compulsory registration as in Germany, nor the legal obligation to possess, let alone carry an identity card. Driving licences, income tax receipts or credit cards, wages slips, envelopes showing name and address, telephone, electricity or gas bills, all these documents can serve as proof of identity or address. They do not - similar to naturalisation documents or registration certificates - contain any photographs. They are also usually valid for an unlimited period of time. Authorities are particularly concerned about the fact that it is estimated that there are up to 20 million more social security numbers in circulation than there are persons registered12. This implies that once documents are legally obtained, emphasised shall be driving licence and National Insurance numbers, they can, without great difficulty, be used even after the expiry of the legally entitled residency.
Further, papers and passports of other EU states are thought to be easily and cheaply obtained on the 'black market' where it is difficult to verify their validity.
Especially in London, an extensive shadow economy has developed, where the most diverse persons - the unemployed, social security dependents, students, migrants or 'illegals' - have found employment. This process was driven forward by the Thatcherite neo-liberal deregulation strategy. It is generally known that especially those dependent on social security benefits have to top up their meagre allowances with all sorts of extra work, or that low wage personnel usually have second and third jobs. The sectors where this is possible is, on the one hand, the building sector, the hotel industry (concentrated in West London), the cleaning sector (especially in the city of London with its innumerable offices), the textiles industry with 1,500 businesses and sweatshops in North London alone, and the catering trade and countless take-aways all over London. Further, there are numerous jobs in large bakeries, on petrol stations, in car garages, or as drivers. In fact, whole f industrial sectors, especially the textile, to some extend small chemical and synthetic material production, have returned from the so-called Third World back to England, especially since the emergence of new possibilities of producing close to the market, in a flexible and cheap manner. Closely related to this "renewal of the industrial past" is the reintroduction of "pre-capitalist" working conditions and corresponding wages13.
Next to London this development, can also be found in the urban conurbations of Manchester and Birmingham.
The coming into office of New Labour two years ago was connected with some form of a "re-regulation programme". The measures streches from diverse restrictions of entrepreneurial freedoms, and the introduction of a minimum wage, to a clampdown and war on so-called social benefit fraud. With the new welfare policies ('from welfare to workfare') the pressure on those dependent on social security benefit to start work has drastically increased, whereby the state specifically subsidises jobs in the low wage sector. It is not least the numerous irregular migrants who are affected by the increasing control of public authorities (with the Benefits Agency Benefit Fraud Intelligence Service, which inspects social security fraud, at the forefront). In the past, local authorities have largely tried to stay out of the central government immigration policies. [back to top]

The control practice of the public services
The British public service belongs to the strongly deregulated, low wage sectors. In contrast to Germany or other Western European states, those who work in the public service sector are not state officials but merely employees (whereby a high percentage, up to 50%, are Black). Those posts, which deal directly with the ever changing regulations of asylum and immigration policies, are increasingly filled with office workers who are usually placed through temping (temporary work placements) agencies. It is striking however, that large parts of the public sector (especially those dealing with the (further) training of, in particular, social workers) are still marked by the spirit of the anti-discrimination law and a liberal and anti-racist culture which is commonly found in Britain. A strong civil rights orientation leads to the fact that those who apply for some kind of social service for example, are generally believed in their statements. Only in exceptional circumstances are further investigations initiated. An automatic data cross-checking with other authorities hardly ever takes place, also due to the widely endorsed data protection tradition. If data comparison does take place, months can pass until the results come out. The majority of laws and regulations are regularly interpreted in favour of the people the authorities serve. Individual immigration officers however, see this practice as a creeping danger in the unscrupulous exploitation by migrants: "If you say Nigerians then you immediately think of fraud and corruptionand set out to infiltrate organisations and from here they can influence decisions." For a long time, it was common practice in many local authority posts not to cooperate with the immigration authorities at all, or at least not to make any statements about "suspicious persons", i.e. people without a secure residency status. "We are not the police around this", "we don't police them", "we are not an investigative branch", "we have no duty to inform the Home Office".
When in 1996, the Home Office attempted to oblige local authorities to cooperate - local authorities in Britain are marked by a high level of autonomy - the suggestion was rejected by almost all authorities. There are now a series of trade union resolutions relating to this matter (the National Association of Teachers in Further Education and UNISON amongst others), all of which oppose the control function of public service officials in residency matters. They have even announced their support for possible strikes in connection with the matter. The most widely used justification for their resistance is that immigration control is the task of immigration officers, and social work the task of social workers, therefore social workers should not be forced to take over the job of immigration officers. Up to now however, industrial action has not been seriously considered as a means of asserting this position. A lot of employees have a certain sympathy with 'illegal working', as they know of the low social security benefits. If migrants who receive benefits are caught in 'illegal employment', the consequence has, up to now, usually merely been a warning, not initiation of legal proceedings. It does occur that those affected are ordered to return the sums they have received from benefit agencies, but these are rarely collected or forced to be returned.
The fewest problems are to be found in the health system: everybody can register with a GP (local doctor), documentation is not necessary. In case of accidents or emergencies there is no identity check at all. Sometimes the residency status is asked for, but without demanding documentation. If, for some reason, it is detected that the person concerned does not possess national insurance in Britain, medical services are not refused, but bills are made out which often simply remain unpaid. At schools also, nobody really takes notice of the legal status of parents, although in further education it is often verified if somebody is eligible for the waiving of course fees. Those who can pay, and actually pass over the money, did not have to fear controls. In principle, all people, independent from their residency status, had a right to claim legal aid, if their income is particularly low. That has changed now, with Straw introducing qualifications such as, the case needs to have a reasonable chance of being successful, only certain incidents qualify as worthy of legal aid. The application for legal aid is usually handled by the lawyers themselves.
However, the comparatively liberal treatment of migrants by public services, and to some extent the Employment Service, has been recently reversed itself, a practice which has proved disastrous for many people. Especially many employees in the Benefits Agencies are nowadays perceived as racist. The specially formed Fraud Agencies are almost obsessed with the identification of 'illegals'. They work closely together with the Home Office, which, however, lacks resources to actually pursue all the reported cases.
Up to now, the government's attempt to intensify, or rather institutionalise, controls at local authority level has failed, due to the latter's well-established institutional practice of fostering their autonomy, as well as data protection and anti-discrimination regulations, and the generally resistant attitude of most of the local authority's employees. The access to non-monetary services - health, education, social work, legal aid - is therefore a lot less complicated than the receipt of social security or housing benefit. [back to top]

The Immigration Authority and the police
The British immigration authority, the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Department, is composed of two directorates: the Immigration Service Ports Directorate which has 2,500 officers for immediate immigration controls, and the Immigration Service Enforcement Directorate, with 560 officers, who are responsible for investigation and searches inland as well as deportations. For the investigation of 'illegals' in and around London (over 10 million inhabitants), the main office only has 88 employees, 67 of whom are immigration officers, at its disposal. These are then distributed over two shifts. Their field of operation also includes the rural areas around London. One district of London (with a quarter to half a million inhabitants, 25% - 45% of whom may be Black) is, statistically speaking, only covered by one single immigration officer. The authority operates from within a central office in the City of London, often without the use of computers. All collected data is kept in old-fashioned files, a practice which is neither transparent nor efficient. Files wander from one desk to another, from one authority to the next. Sometimes they are not where they are supposed to be. Often, important data is missing. In some instances this can prove negative for the migrant, when for example an application cannot be processed. Often however, they can benefit from the situation, when after years of investigation, they can sue for residency due to the expiry of the time limit. Refugees and migrants with a temporary residency status (temporary admission), or exceptional leave to remain (after the rejection of the asylum application for example) usually have to report to the London office once a month. On several occasions they have then been arrested and deported within a very short period of time.
Many immigration officers almost nurture their racist stereotypes, even when in most cases they pretend to be entirely neutral. At the moment, people from Nigeria, Ghana and Jamaica are at the top of the list of enemies. In the past, this rejection was especially directed towards immigrants from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. There seem to be fewer reservations towards 'white' migrants from Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Baltic countries or Turkey. If the government had its way, all rejected asylum seekers - independently of their origin - should be at the centre of attention. The practice common up to now in Britain, similar to that of all Western European states, which is to reject the majority of asylum applications as manifestly unfounded, yet not consistently enforce these expulsion orders, is supposed to change under the New Labour government. In future, the aim is not supposed to be the exclusion of refugees and migrants from social security benefits and thereby to gloss over the statistics, it is now to actually get rid of them. When in 1997, it was publicly stated that 45,000 rejected asylum seekers were suspected of still being resident in the country, it was ironically the British Worker's Party, which accused the conservative government of being too lax with the treatment of refugees.
According to official statistics, irregular migrants are, in most cases, "identified from information from third parties: one third as a result from calls from the police, trypically when investigations of an unrelated offence raises doubts about a suspect's immigration status; and a quarter as a result of tip-offs from the public. Around 20% of offenders are identified by examining case files. ...Some 10% are detected as a result of targeted operations or research into patterns of offending or areas od abuse"14.
Fishing raids have been outruled in the 80's as a result of protests and stop-and-search or identity controls without suspicion also have been viewed as non-acceptable. Individual immigration officers, however, have already developed their own tactics in order to circumvent these legal restrictions:
"I enter the restaurant through the front door and use to deploy my officers outside the shop and at the back. Then I am going on my own, plain closed asking quite loudly that I am from the immigration service and that I want to speak the manager. Word goes round then and to the kitchen, we then catch those who run off".
The investigation sometimes follow the pattern that a suspicion towards a particular person starts to develop:
"The employer ...gave me a complete list of all his staff, full names, date of birth, current addresses. ...Some of whom where clearly English names, which I didn't bother about but then the West African names and other names I couldn't recognise I spent time on that".
In the end, the relevant officer found 5 suspects with the help of the list, where those concerned could have been rejected asylum seekers, those who 'absconded', or non-registered persons. Four months after the start of the preliminary proceedings, the workplace was raided. Due to the under-staffing already mentioned of the immigration authority, the effect of raids and similar actions has remained rather restricted:
"[We] cannot visit all the places detecting all these illegal immigrants. If [we] have an operation [we] try to seek as much publicity as possible, placing [our] raids in the media to put in peoples mind that [we] are there".
Raids are therefore first and foremost meant as a deterrent, and are not, even by state-led prosecution agencies, seen as a serious means of fighting the residence and employment of 'illegals'. This attitude is also reflected in our interviews: Almost all those questioned had heard about these controls at the workplace, but hardly feared being found out themselves in this manner. The legal provisions for these raids are as follows:
1. There have to be records specifically identifying a person without a residency permit, and an attemp is made to arrest that person (A mere suspicion that 'illegals' might be present is not sufficient.)
2. Up to now, every search warrant and arrest had to be carried out by the police, as immigration officers lacked relevant powers. (However, with the new Immigration and Asylum Act they will obtain these.)
The determination of, or restriction to, unhindered raids however, is particularly dependent on the local political power relations. "Employers would go to their local councillors to complain", "more raids means that in the end you would get more people who rely on benefits", "the councils say, raids destroy relationship with the communities", "some communities would not put up with it and begin to attack the police". It is especially the memory of the violent uprisings of the 1980's, most of which had been triggered off by police harassment and attacks, which has forced parts of the police force to be a lot more careful in the treatment of so-called ethnic minorities.
Evern today some Chief Police officers more or less refuse cooperation with the immigration authorities.
For some years now, the authorities have started to use special enforcement units to deal with specific forms and aspects of 'illegal' employment and residency. The emphasis here has been on employment in the hotel- and catering industry and on so-called sham marriages, which are investigated with the close cooperation of registrar offices (wedding and birth and death registration). The immigration authority is almost obsessed with the investigations into 'illegal' employment in the agricultural sector, that is, in operations outside the big towns and away from the large black communities.
These actions are especially directed towards Eastern European migrants, specifically towards legal sub-contractors, whose 'gangs', which they lend to agricultural businesses, also include people without a legal residency status. Since 1996, there has been a campaign involving a cross-section of authorities to launch raids specifically targetting these so-called gang-masters.
Accidental confrontations with the police, traffic controls and traffic offenses, defective car lights, expired licence numbers or MOT plates, involvement in accidents or criminal investigations by other authorities, are - compared to 'successful' operations by the immigration authority - the main causes of the detection of 'illegals' in Britain. This is also commonly known amongst migrants, so they have adapted their strategies of survival to avoid the police as much as they can, using their native language as little as possible in public and to avoid certain places.
An appeal towards anti-racist consciousness - which is strengthened by anti-discrimination laws - can, even towards the police, be useful in certain situations. One 'illegally' employed Turk, for example, manages to avoid arrest by complaining about the discriminatory behaviour of one young officer: "He was a young racist policeman and he was very strict with me. He told me directly that he would expel me from the country. I showed him my visa and ...denied that I was working, because he couldn't prove it. ...I asked him how he feel, if I come back to my country and treat an Englishman just the way as he treated me. ...The chief inspector apologised and told me not to work any more".
The same Turkish man was checked by a police officer with regards to allegations of trespassing:
"I told him that since he wasn't from the immigration office he mustn't ask me that [immigration status]. He apologised and left".
Another Polish man told us about his surprising encounter with the London Metropolitan Police:
"I was working, building a wall, two policemen walked by. I got worried and then they started chatting to me, very friendly. English police are fine, no problems".
One can assume that the immigration authority knows that Poland, for example, will be part of the EU sooner or later. That means that the migrants they are supposed to keep under surveillance today can already have far-reaching rights tomorrow. In this respect the activities of the authorities is dampened. Other groups, 'illegal' Chinese migrants for example, are avoided by the immigration authority because the Chinese authorities do not cooperate and refuse to re-admit their deported nationals. People from Nigeria and Jamaica are also considered difficult to deport, which does not, however, stop British officers from putting them into detention for months on end or from working on the respective embassies and state institutions for years.
In summary, one can distinguish the following characteristics concerning the immigration authority's practices: apart from a few exceptions, the officers are familiar with the common strategies concerning forms of irregular residency and employment. For example, they know of the role of language schools, employment contractors and temping agencies. There are simply not enough personal and technical resources to act efficiently. An effective control is also undermined by the strong anti-discrimination legislation, as well as the refusal by public service employees to cooperate with the immigration authority. Furthermore, irregular work and residency practices are still not top priority amongst the 'criminal acts' to be fought against in Britain. Identity controls in inland Britain as well as actions against 'illegals' are continuing to require thorough justification. [back to top]

The perspective for migrants: The Polish community
The largest Polish community is located in West London (a total of 74,000 Poles live in England) and can be traced back mainly to immigration after the Second World War. There are churches, a cultural centre and other facilities, mainly serving the well-established community. Immigrants coming from Eastern Europe today, whether from Romania, Poland or the Ukraine, are turned away as a rule by these traditional organisations and establishments in this community. Most refugees or migrant workers who have come to Britain in the last few years live principally in the poorer districts in East London. An infrastructure to offer support for newcomers from Eastern Europe is neither non-existent or inadequate. Almost all the Polish immigrants we have spoken to come as tourists. At the border they were granted entry clearance, which was stamped in their passports and is valid for sixth months. No visa is required yet in Britain for Polish citizens. Most of our interviewees had been well prepared for entry controls with the help of their friends' experiences. For example, they were already aware how official interrogations would proceed, what answers were required and what documentation they had to provide. According to our interviews, about two thirds of the Poles arriving in Britain (usually by bus) are refused entry at the borders. Before their rejection they have to undergo hours of interrogation. "When our bus arrived in Dover, only seven out of fifty people were allowed entry". The justification offered by immigration officials is usually that the people in question could not provide convincing evidence that they were tourists. This was indicated by insufficient funds, lack of hotel addresses, no invitation from people living in Britain, etc. Sometimes their personal situation in Poland - no job, no family - is often interpreted by officials as evidence that they possibly have no intention of returning to their homeland. As a routine measure, clothing is now checked at the borders. If there is no previous entry stamp in the passport, but British labels are found in items of clothing, this can lead to difficulties. It is then assumed the person in question is concealing his or her origins and previous travel activities, which often suffices to refuse entry. If invitations are on hand, the British hosts are often telephoned for the purpose of checking and sometimes called to the port/airport to introduce themselves, explain their situation and take custody of their guests. Some of the interviewees reported that they had entered the country many times, sometimes with new names. This was necessitated by the practices of immigration officials. If entry is once refused at the border, it is registered in the computers as such and can lead to further refusals.
"Going back to Poland and come back with a brandnew passport, that is what most people do. Because they do not stamp your passport by departure, nobody knows exactly, when you have left the country. Then you come back a week later or p