UK’s Byron restaurants under fire for immigration raid

Protesters hold a demonstration outside a Byron burger restaurant in Holborn, Central London

British burger chain Byron has been targeted by protesters over its alleged involvement in an immigration sting that saw some of its migrant staff deported.

A sizable crowd of demonstrators gathered outside a Byron restaurant in central London on Monday night, accusing it of collaborating with the UK Home Office to entrap some 35 staff members for deportation. The Home Office announced that it had taken into custody 35 migrants from Albania, Brazil, Nepal and Egypt. So far 25 of the detainees have been removed from the UK.

The ministry made it clear that Byron will not face any legal action since it correctly checked the staff’s “right to work” but was shown false or counterfeit documentation.

Byron issued a statement after the protests, insisting in an online statement that they were “unaware” of the counterfeit documents before the Home Office brought it to their attention. Protesters, however, were not convinced by that explanation and blasted the chain for its role in the deportation.

“The law doesn’t tell Byron to entrap workers, to lure them into a trap, to trick them into coming into work when actually they are being raided and they are going to be deported,” said protest coordinator Ewa Jasiewicz.

“It’s completely unacceptable. How they behaved might have been legal but it’s not ethical … They need to clean up their act,” she added. British companies that fail to properly validate an immigrant’s right to work could face fines of up to £20,000 per migrant. For Byron, the figure could go as high as £700,000. The protest forced Byron officials to close the branch earlier than usual. Byron’s Holborn branch was also closed after protesters unleashed swarms of live insects in them.

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