Sat, Dec 27, 2003 - Page 3 News List

`Hunting Snake' wants 1,000 illegal immigrants

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government has set itself a target of catching 1,000 illegal immigrants over the next six months, Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday at the first meeting of a new task force that has the mission of stemming the flow of illegal Chinese immigrants to Taiwan.

"The task force aims to seize 1,000 to 1,200 illegal immigrants in six months, in addition to tracking down 15 to 25 cases of mass illegal immigration," Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said following the premier's announcement.

The Cabinet-level task force, dubbed "Hunting Snake," was launched by the Executive Yuan last month to augment the forces combating illegal immigration from China. The government has said that the growing number of Chinese illegal immigrants poses a security risk to Taiwan.

Yu also presided over the inauguration of the campaign at a naval base in Keelung last night.

The task force is headed by Director-General of the Coast Guard Administration Wang Chun (王郡), who reported at yesterday's meeting that the task force had realized its first-phase goal by seizing 322 Chinese illegal immigrants.

It had also ferreted out seven cases of organized human smuggling and prostitution.

The masterminds and their accomplices behind the smuggling of Chinese people to Taiwan are facing harsher punishments, including a minimum five-year jail sentence and a fine of up to NT$10 million, after the Legislative Yuan approved the amended Statute Governing Relations Between People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) in October.

The government will also confiscate fishing vessels that have been used to transport illegal immigrants, which will deal a double blow to fishermen who collaborate with the smugglers.

To fulfill its goal of wiping out illegal immigration, the task force is offering rewards ranging from NT$3,000 to NT$60,000 to people reporting illegal immigrants.

Wang estimated that there would be more than 3,500 Chinese illegal immigrants detained in Taiwan by the end of year.

"The administration has detained about 3,000 illegal immigrants from China since January," Wang said.

He said he expected a decrease in the number of Chinese illegal immigrants now that the Chinese authorities have joined in the crackdown.

National Police Administration Director General Chang Si-liang (張四良) said that the government would start using a new detention center in Kinmen to house Chinese illegal immigrants before the end of next year.

"The government decided to keep the detained Chinese illegal immigrants outside Taiwan to make their repatriation easier," Chang said.

The government is also planning to build more detention centers on Kinmen and Matsu, Chang said.

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