Cops nab migrants at border as registration drive begins
Thai immigration police Sunday arrested Cambodians illegally crossing the border into the kingdom, ahead of the registration of undocumented migrant workers which begins Monday.
A police patrol detained 15 Cambodians who had crossed the border under the Thai-Cambodian Friendship Bridge in Aranyaprathet, Sa Kaeo. The six men and nine women were walking along the railway heading for Golden Gate market when they were arrested.
Police investigators learned the Cambodians had come from Banteay Meanchey and were hoping to find jobs in Bangkok. They had reportedly paid 2,500 baht each to brokers in Poi Pet, who said Thais would come and pick them up at Rong Kluea market and take them to the capital.
They were told that they would be eligible to register as migrant workers and would be allowed to work in Thailand until the end of the year, the police said.
Police then further expanded the search before nabbing two Thais, 56-year-old Tatpong Niroram and 46-year-old Suriya Kanniyom from Sa Kaeo's Khok Sung district, who were giving lifts to four illegal migrants on motorcycles. They were transporting the two men and two women to the bus station so they could travel to Bangkok to search for jobs.
Sa Kaeo immigration chief Col Benjapol Rodsawat said Thai immigration has contacted its counterpart in Poi Pet to encourage them to publicise the need for Cambodians to get a work permit, in addition to a passport, before crossing into Thailand, as per the recent bilateral MoU.
From Monday until Aug 7, the government will open 101 centres nationwide so employers can obtain a Letter of Demand saying they would like to formalise the legality of any migrant workers on their payroll.
During this 15-day period, the government centres will assist in upgrading the legal status of any undocumented workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia who can confirm they have valid employment as well as prove their identity, Waranont Pitiwan, director of the Department of Employment, said.
The employer-employee verification will take 30 days from Aug 8-Sept 6, and the assumption is that up to 500,000 labourers are likely to register, he said.
Both the Myanmar and Cambodian governments have sent officers to help issue Certificates of Identity (CI) for the workers in Thailand before the process of nationality verification gets under way. However, Laotian workers will have to contact their embassy and return to their country to have their passports issued before coming back to work, he said.
A 180-day grace period has been granted to ease panic and prevent a potential exodus of migrant workers due to the harsh punishments imposed by an executive decree which took effect on June 23.