London– People living as illegal immigrants in Britain are willing to return to their home country, a Sikh leader said.
The remark by Gurmel Singh Kandola, secretary general of the Sikh Council, came amid the growing fury provoked by a poster campaign launched recently in Britain to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the country, the Daily Mail reported.
The advertisement, mounted on vans and trucks plying across London, says: “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest.”
It further provides a text number for free advice and help with travel documents.
The poster campaign has come under fire from many human rights groups and left-wing politicians for being “offensive and racist”.
The Advertising Standards Authority has so far received 60 complaints against the campaign and the authority has already launched an investigation to look into the matter.
Singh said the message in the advertisement could have been conveyed in a softer way.
“If it said something like, If you want to go home contact this number or assistance is available to return home, I think it would have been the same message but delivered more softly,” he told the Daily Mail.
He added that many illegal Indian immigrants are stuck in Britain and desperately want to return home.
“Their plight is well known; they are sleeping very rough under bridges and in multiple occupancies, sometimes in sheds in the back of people’s gardens.”
“We have been quite concerned about the abject poverty in which they are living. Many of them have been trafficked by unscrupulous agents who take a lot of money from them,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
Singh said his organisation is in talks with the British Home Office department to facilitate the voluntary return process.
“Our discussions have been for those who want to go back home to facilitate that process in a humane and generous way.”
“In fact they are stuck. They want to go home on a voluntary basis and what we need is processes to facilitate that,” he said.—IANS