LONDON (AFP) - People found working illegally in England and Wales face up to six months in prison and could have their wages seized under proposals announced by the British government on Tuesday.
The announcement comes with the centre-right Conservative government under pressure to show it is in control of immigration, one of the most sensitive topics in British politics, after increased attempts by migrants to reach England from France.
"Anyone who thinks the UK is a soft touch should be in no doubt - if you are here illegally, we will take action to stop you from working, renting a flat, opening a bank account or driving a car," immigration minister James Brokenshire said in a statement.
"Illegal workers will face the prospect of a prison term and rogue employers could have their businesses closed, have their licences removed, or face prosecution if they continue to flout the law."
The Immigration Bill, which Prime Minister David Cameron's government is to introduce this year, will allow for pubs, takeaway food outlets and off-licences to have their licences revoked if they are found to employ people who lack permission to work in Britain.
The government previously announced that the law would also allow for wages earned by people working illegally to be seized as proceeds of crime.
Banks would have to check accounts against migrant databases, and under the legislation, landlords would be expected to evict tenants whose requests for asylum fail. Employers of illegal workers face fines and an increased maximum prison term of five years.
The government hopes the law will make it easier to prosecute those who knowingly employ illegal workers.
Cameron failed to meet a promise to cut immigration to Britain under his previous term as prime minister, and is expected to come under renewed scrutiny with the release of the latest official migration statistics on Thursday.