More than 30 illegal workers held in Chinatown raids

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LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) Police arrested more than 30 suspected illegal workers in raids on restaurants in London's Chinatown today as part of a crackdown on immigration offences, the government said.

The Home Office said police and border officials detained the Chinese and Malaysian nationals because they did not have permission to work in Britain.

Opposition parties have repeatedly accused the government of being soft on immigration, of failing to tackle people who enter Britain illegally and underestimating the numbers.

However, Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said the raids were an example of the government's ''tough stance against those who break Britain's rules''.

''We will shut down illegal jobs and take action against dodgy employers,'' Byrne said. ''We have vowed to come down hard on companies that break the rules or turn a blind eye.'' Chinese people who apply for a visa for a trip to Britain will soon all be fingerprinted before they travel, he added.

With the issue high on the political agenda, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans earlier this year for a new border police force and tighter security checks.

In a speech earlier this month, Conservative Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said Brown's Labour had created an ''open-door Britain'' that has stretched public services.

''How can housing, schools, communities cope, when the numbers are so huge?'' Davis asked.

The Chinatown raids took place at lunchtime at the Royal Dragon, Golden Dragon, Luxuriance Peking, The Hong Kong and The Special Zone restaurants.

The bustling district is home to dozens of Asian restaurants and food shops, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Reuters SYU GC2122

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