Its a bizarre story but becoming all the more common for all that. Migrant enters the country 'illegally', is exploited and abused (in his case being robbed of all his possessions, including his passport) and left destitute. More often or not, this would either lead to them being picked up by the police and result in a swift journey to the nearest immigration detention centre or, if more fortunate, they would survive their plight due to the intervention and the kindness of strangers.
In this case we have 32-year-old Sarbjit Singh, who freely admits he is an 'illegal' immigrant and wishes to be deported back to the Punjab. However, as he has no money or a passport he cannot catch a flight home and the UK Borders Agency refuse to detain him, even though he has been living on the street for the last four months kept alive by handouts from local residents and the warmth from a factory hot air vent during the freezing weather.
The UKBA's excuse is that, whilst they continue to try and secure a passport for him from the Indian authorities, (now don't laugh) they only lock people up in detention centres as a "last resort".
Mr Singh and a 40-year-old man named Ashok Masah, who he shares his pavement 'home' with and who refuses to co-operate with the authorities in any way, have been arrested by the police on two occasions over their immigration status but were released both times when immigration officials declined to take them into custody.
Interestingly, the MP for the area is Keith Vaz, chair of the Home Affairs Committee and he has written to Phil Woolas to ask him to get the Border Agency involved: "There is absolutely no reason or justification for the UK Border Agency to allow these men to remain on the streets while their applications are resolved. These living conditions put their lives in serious danger."* One wonders if Woolas will pay any more attention to him than he has done on numerous occasions in the past.
* At least Vaz's concerns are primarily for the welfare of the two men and not, like the Leicester Mercury "the long-suffering residents of this area have to put up with this atrocious state of affairs" and the "Leicestershire police and the city council have been left to pick up the pieces and the bill". Exactly what bill this is they fail to enumerate.