A pair of illegal immigrants from Albania have been arrested in a Home Office raid in South Shields.
They were among five men who face deportation after being snared in operations by Home Office immigration enforcement officers.
Acting on intelligence, officers visited a construction site in Wingrove Lane, Fenham, Newcastle, and a residential address in Dale Street, South Shields, on Friday.
People at both locations were questioned to establish their immigration status.
At the Fenham site, three men from Pakistan who were working at the site were found to have overstayed their visas.
All three were arrested and are now detained pending their removal from the UK.
At the South Shields address, two Albanian men were found to be in the UK illegally. They were also both arrested and are now detained pending their removal from the country.
The construction site visit was carried out with the full cooperation of the company working at the site.
The illegal workers were all employed by a separate sub-contractor, A&A Building Contractors, based in Rupert Street, Bolton.
A&A will now be served a notice warning that financial penalties of up to £20,000 per illegal worker arrested will be imposed unless it can demonstrate that appropriate right to work document checks were carried out, such as seeing a passport or Home Office document.
If proof is not provided, this is a potential total of up to £60,000.
Phillippa Russell, assistant director of the North East & Cumbria Home Office Immigration Enforcement Team, said: “Our specialist teams carry out regular operations in the North East, and anyone who is in the UK illegally faces arrest, detention and removal from the country.
“Illegal working defrauds the taxpayer, undercuts honest businesses and cheats legitimate job seekers out of employment opportunities.
“We rely on information from the public, and I would urge people to report suspected immigration abuse to us.”
New measures included in the Immigration Bill currently progressing through Parliament will make it easier to prosecute employers using illegal labour, increase the maximum prison sentence for doing so to five years, and close down businesses which continue to flout the rules.
Those who work illegally will themselves be committing a criminal offence, and face the prospect of having their earnings seized.
The Home Office will also continue to seek to remove from the UK anyone who does not have the right to be here.
* For more information on right to work checks, CLICK HERE.