Tens of thousands of illegal Chinese migrants cannot be deported for crimes committed here because China is refusing to take them back, say prosecutors.
The loophole has emerged following the case of a Chinese illegal immigrant who cannot be sent home despite acting as a salesman for one of Britain’s biggest counterfeit DVD operations.
Hong Guo, 20, was caught in a “warehouse” in London containing 40,000 DVDs. She is a failed asylum seeker who arrived here two years ago and has no right to work or claim benefits in Britain.
Although Hong’s deportation was ordered yesterday, prosecutors said it was unlikely she would return home because China will probably refuse to take her back. Jason Bartfeld told the Old Bailey: “The problem is with China and Vietnam. They are not accepting their nationals back.”
The judge hearing the case said it was likely that because she could not be deported she would return to her criminal ways.
Judge Anthony Morris told Hong: “As you are not permitted to work and are not entitled to benefit it seems to me inevitable that in due course you will return to work in similar enterprises.”
Officials from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) said that she would probably return to work with Chinese criminal gangs within days.
Eddy Leviten, a spokesman for Fact, said there were tens of thousands of Chinese people working illegally in Britain—and very few were ever sent back to China. Because they are illegal immigrants, most have destroyed their identity papers. China, therefore, disputes their identity and nationality and refuses to accept that they are Chinese.
Mr Leviten said: “It is very, very frustrating both from an investigation point of view and from a police perspective.”
The Tories yesterday called for Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, to “explain what is going on”.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: “It would be outrageous if this Government was letting other countries say they will not take their own citizens back because of their criminality.”
Hong was arrested on Nov 2 last year when police raided a house in Stamford Hill, north London. They seized about £120,000 worth of DVDs of films currently in cinemas.
A spokesman for the UK Border and Immigration Agency denied that there were problems deporting criminals.
She said: “We can and do return people to China and Vietnam.
“Biometric visas have been rolled out to more than 100 countries, including China and Vietnam, tying people to one identity, whilst foreign nationals will soon be required to carry ID cards.”