Cardiff councillor Mohammed Islam in racism blast at UK Border Agency
Riverside councillor Mohammed Islam claims officers have targeted businesses in his ward following an incident last year where another councillor passed a constituent’s tip-off to officials.
Coun Islam, who has represented the ward since June 2004, claims UKBA is “basically going to every single Asian and ethnic minority business” in the area to check whether staff are legally entitled to work.
“Personally I strongly feel it’s indirect racism, I would say,” the Plaid Cymru councillor told the Echo.
But immigration minister Damian Green rejected the allegations and said: “We target immigration offenders – not specific nationalities.”
Coun Islam claims there has been a spike in visits by officers since fellow Riverside councillor Iona Gordon passed on to UKBA a tip-off sent to councillors that a businessman in their ward was employing illegal staff.
“If they have got to go to go and do a random check fair enough, they have got a right,” said Coun Islam. “But if they pick and choose Asian businesses it gives the question of why this kind of business.”
A spokesman for UKBA said they had “no record” of visiting the firms mentioned in the e-mail, which was sent to Coun Gordon and Coun Islam on December 9 last year.
A leaflet – seen by the Echo – that Coun Islam said was produced by people from “various parts of the city” states there will be a protest outside UKBA’s offices in Newport Road, Cardiff, on Saturday.
The leaflet alleges black and minority ethnic-run businesses have been “targeted” by immigration authorities in recent weeks and adds: “This is unacceptable and must end now.”
A propaganda letter from Plaid intended for voters in Riverside, also seen by the Echo, claims Coun Gordon has been “busy reporting local businesses to the UK Border Agency”.
Responding to the claims, Coun Gordon said: “It is the moral duty of an elected councillor presented with allegations of lawbreaking to pass them on to the appropriate public authority for investigation.
“Is Coun Islam saying that is wrong and that he is willing to turn a blind eye to allegations of lawbreaking?
“In December Coun Islam passed me information from a local Asian resident about poor housing conditions in a Riverside house and asked me to take it up, which I did. This local resident then e-mailed both myself and Coun Islam making allegations about illegal immigrants being employed in a local restaurant.
“I forwarded the e-mail to the appropriate agency for them to investigate. It is not for me to investigate such matters.
“Not only did Coun Islam not report this potential lawbreaking, but he has now revealed a matter that I believe should have remained confidential to the press, to his Plaid Cymru colleagues and to local people presumably to seek to discredit me in the run up to the local elections.
“Coun Islam and I represent different political parties but once elected we represent all the residents in Riverside regardless of their ethnicity. All I did last December was to forward, in good faith, information I was given by an Asian constituent to the appropriate authority for them to investigate.”
Immigration minister Damian Green said: “We target immigration offenders – not specific nationalities.
“When we receive clear intelligence that offences are being committed we take action.
“So far this month, we have carried out around 30 operations at businesses and residential addresses across South Wales targeting suspected offenders from a range of nationalities.”