Cops crack down on illegal migrants

Cops crack down on illegal migrants

Sweep begins after registration closes

In this file photo from last year, police check identities of Cambodian migrants. A new operation begins this week to round up and deport thousands of unregistered migrants from nearby countries. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
In this file photo from last year, police check identities of Cambodian migrants. A new operation begins this week to round up and deport thousands of unregistered migrants from nearby countries. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

A massive crackdown on illegal migrants has been launched nationwide after the registration of undocumented alien labourers reached deadline on Saturday.

Labour Minister Adul Sangsingkeo said Sunday that 113 officers from the ministry and the Royal Thai Police began a sweep for unregistered migrants across the country following the closure of the ministry's one-stop registration service centres two days ago. To stay and work legally in the country, migrants must hold work permits or pink cards (temporary work permits).

"The operation is focusing on migrants without those working documents first. There is no leniency because the registration deadline was extended twice [March 31 and June 30] to have the workers legalised. Therefore, legal action and repatriation must be brought against undocumented migrants," he said.

Pol Gen Adul said around 1.18 million migrants have been registered with the ministry, of whom 350,840 are from Cambodia, 59,746 from Laos and 777,217 from Myanmar, since the process began on Jan 16. Around 950 others are suspected of working illegally in the country.

In January, 1.32 million contacted authorities to begin the registration process. Currently, an estimated 3.2 million alien labourers are working legally in the country.

According to the 2017 executive decree on the management of migrant workers, legal action will be pursued against both employers and unregistered staff in the event of any visa-related transgressions.

Labourers face a fine of 5,000 to 50,000 baht. They will also be repatriated and banned from working in Thailand for two years.

Meanwhile, employers face a fine of 10,000 baht to 100,000 baht per illegal worker. Repeat offenders will be liable for fines of 50,000 to 200,000 baht per worker, a jail term of not more than one year, and a three-year ban on hiring foreigners.

Pol Gen Adul said the harsh penalties would help lower the number of illegal migrant labourers, adding legally-registered migrants would be protected from being exploited by their employers.

The minister also ordered local authorities to set up temporary coordination centres along the borders of Thailand and three neighbouring countries: Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

The centres will oversee the repatriation of undocumented migrants to their home countries.

Pol Gen Adul said the Myanmar embassy has asked Thai authorities to extradite its people through the centres at border checkpoints in Mae Sot district in the western province of Tak, Mae Sai district in the northern province of Chiang Rai as well as Ranong in the South.

The Cambodia embassy also reported that a number of Cambodian undocumented labourers had sought its assistance as they did not have work permits.

Pol Gen Adul said the ministry was unable to assist those illegal migrants as the registration deadline has passed. They would have to return to Cambodia and re-enter Thailand under a memorandum of understanding on labour cooperation. The policy on hiring migrant workers means Thais would be prioritised while the import of alien labourers would be carried out according to national need.


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