Overstayers face stiff re-entry bans
PM mulls request to use special powers
The Immigration Bureau has asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to exercise his special powers to issue a ban on foreigners found guilty of overstaying in Thailand from re-entering the country for one to 10 years.
The move is aimed at cutting the number of illegal migrants by 80%, down from the current crop of overstayers estimated at 800,000 people.
Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn, the bureau chief, said in cases of overstaying of more than 90 days to one year, the ban from re-entry will be one year.
In cases of overstaying between more than one year and three years, the ban from re-entry will be three years, while those found guilty of overstaying between more than three years and five years will face a ban from re-entry of five years.
For those found guilty of overstaying more than five years, the ban from re-entry will be 10 years.
Most illegal migrants in Thailand came originally from Africa, India and Bangladesh and their motives for breaking the immigration law here were mainly that they wanted to use Thailand as a temporary shelter before migrating on to a third country, said Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn.
One reason for the growth of overstayers was the rather weak penalties for overstaying that comprise a fine of 500 baht-20,000 baht and deportation, he said.
Anyone who doesn't have money for the fine can opt for imprisonment in which one day is equivalent to the payment of 200 baht in fines, he said.
However, under the present law, after being deported to their countries of origin, those illegal migrants can still return to Thailand again and again, he said.
The proposal to impose a re-entry ban on illegal migrants via the prime minister's order under Section 44 of the interim charter has won approval from the Interior Ministry and is now being considered by the prime minister, he said.
In a crackdown over the past week, 9,265 foreign suspects were arrested, 97.5% of whom were accused of violating the immigration law by overstaying, said Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn.
Of this number, only 18 people were detained on other criminal charges.
A vast majority of the detained suspects were African people, he said.
Pol Gen Dechnarong Suthichanbancha, a Level 10 police adviser who specialises in security affairs, said an instruction had been issued to stamp out illegal migrants in Thailand, which led to authorities deciding on the 80% initial reduction target.
In four notable cases recently, a total of six foreigners were detained. In the first case, Kristina Monka, 23, and Grigory Lyaskov, 24, both from Russia and wanted by Russian authorities and Interpol on fraud charges, were detained in Pattaya City on Oct 21.
Ms Monka was wanted by police in Russia after she was found to have transferred about 4 million baht from customers' accounts at the bank where she worked to her own secret accounts before fleeing to Thailand.
She worked as a customer relations manager for the Russian Bank and colluded with Mr Lyaskov who himself secretly transferred about 945,000 baht from customers' accounts to his own, police said.
In the second case, Agborbelle Mkpot Etah, 32, and Chanceline Ngenwie, 28, both from Cameroon, were arrested on Saturday, Mr Etha in Bang Kapi district of Bangkok and Ms Ngenwie in Chon Buri's Phanat Nikhom district.
These suspects were wanted by Khon Kaen police on document forgery charges. Police found they hired a Cameroonian visa broker in Khon Kaen to submit on their behalf fake documents claiming they were hired as language teachers in the northeastern province.
The fake documents were intended to deceive immigration officials into renewing their visas.
In the third case, Minwoo Cho, 43, from South Korea, who was wanted under a "red notice" issued by Interpol for alleged involvement in illegal online gambling was detained in Chon Buri's Bang Lamung district on Thursday.
Immigration officials in Chon Buri had been looking for this suspect for some time before they found he operated a massage shop on Sukhumvit Road in this district.
In the fourth case, Myo Kyi, 47, from Myanmar, was arrested on Oct 19 for allegedly forging a departure immigration clearance stamp at the immigration office in Ranong province.
This suspect was found to have used the fake immigration stamp on his passport during an immigration check at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Immigration officials who inspected his passport had detected signs of irregularities in the stamp on page 11 of his passport, prompting them to compare the stamp with the record stored in the VSC6000 immigration system.
They found the stamp on his passport was fake.
The suspect was believed to have used the fake stamp to extend his stay in Thailand when he was actually overstaying, an immigration source said.
No word was to hand on when the prime minister was likely to make a decision on the call for re-entry bans.