“More important is for the message to go out that if you are here illegally and caught working, you and your employer will end up in court”, said Alp Mehmet, of Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tighter immigration restrictions.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics shows net migration – the difference between the number of people entering and the number of people leaving the UK – showed net migration was 330,000 for the year ending March 2015.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said the figures were “deeply disappointing”.
Cameron is under pressure to deliver on a promise made in 2010 to reduce annual net migration to Britain to below 100,000.
“Combined with ministers’ increasingly strong rhetoric on immigration, the UK’s reputation as an open, competitive economy is under threat”, he added.
The government’s plans to cut immigration are “punishing businesses”, according to the Institute of Directors (IoD) and think tank British Future.
Business lobby group the Institute of Directors criticised the target, saying it is unachievable and that the search for new measures to help meet it was creating instability for companies.
Immigration has risen significantly in the last 20 years, spiking most recently after a decade of stability.
“The UK remains a major destination for worldwide migrants, in part due to its flexible labour market and attractive higher education sector”.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage told Breitbart London: “These figures reflect borderless Britain and total impotence of the British government”. The government hopes the law will make it easier to prosecute those who knowingly employ illegal workers.
In researcher NatCen’s British Social Attitudes Survey, taken in 2013 and published in June 2014, 24 percent of respondents said they believed welfare was the most common motive for migration when that was listed as one of the choices.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the migration observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “Migration levels are now comparable to what we saw in the mid-2000s after EU enlargement”.