Sun, Apr 02, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Illegal overstays pose risk: lawmakers

LOST AND FOUND:Last year, 20,678 missing migrant workers were found, but another 21,708 went missing, the NIA said, adding that it will crack down on illegal activities

By Chen Yu-fu  /  Staff reporter

Migrant workers sit on the ground after being detained by police for having absconded from their place of work in Yilan County on Jan. 5.

Photo copied by Chien Hui-ju, Taipei Times

More than 3,300 Chinese, Hong Kongers, Macanese and stateless people illegally overstayed their visas in Taiwan last year, which could pose a national security concern, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said.

According to the National Immigration Agency (NIA), 3,365 people — 2,002 Chinese as well as 1,363 Hong Kongers, Macanese or stateless people — overstayed their visa last year, while the number of missing migrant workers reached 53,000.

There are many Chinese who remain in Taiwan illegally or visiting the nation supposedly for business who are actually spying for China, DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said, calling on national security agencies to investigate the issue.

The agency spends about NT$300 million (US$9.89 million) annually on counseling for immigrants, human trafficking prevention and residency management, but the number of people who overstay their tourist or resident visa has been increasing.

Last year, 79,392 people were found overstaying their visa, an increase of about 13,000 from about 66,000 in 2012, the agency said.

Of about 236,000 Chinese who were registered as being on “professional exchanges and conducting commercial activities” in Taiwan, the agency visited more than 8,600 people and found that 840 of them were in breach of laws and regulations, it said.

One person was found to be violating “the purpose of the trip permitted” by Taiwanese authorities and others failed to report changes to their itineraries.

The online review process for Chinese applications to visit Taiwan is overly lenient, Chen said, adding that many people have come to Taiwan claiming they are conducting commercial activities, but are actually gathering intelligence.

Chen called on national security agencies to exercise oversight.

A national security crisis could occur if illegally overstaying Chinese engage in sabotage, instigation or information gathering, DPP Legislator Lai Jui-lung (賴瑞隆) said.

Lai urged authorities to investigate if those who come to Taiwan for commercial exchanges have a hidden agenda.

Lai also demanded that law enforcement agencies ensure that missing or “runaway” migrant workers are not working in illegal businesses.

The agency said the National Security Bureau has teamed up with other national security agencies, such as the National Police Agency, the Investigation Bureau, the Coast Guard Administration and the Military Police Command, to search for missing migrant workers.

Last year, 20,678 missing migrant workers were found, but in the same period, another 21,708 went missing, which shows that the most pressing task for the Ministry of Labor is to bolster its management, the immigration agency said.

It said it will step up the monitoring of visiting Chinese and conduct monthly checks and random inspections to find missing migrant workers, and crack down on illegal job brokers and human trafficking.

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