Tue, Dec 30, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan's Bureau of Immigration like a police station, academics say

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Bureau of Immigration is run too much like a police station, academics said at a conference on immigration policy yesterday.

"Our immigration policy focuses too much on population control. We also need to establish a system to integrate immigrants into society," said Tseng Yen-fen (曾嬿芬), professor of sociology at the National Tai-wan University.

The draft guidelines in the ROC immigration policy (中華民國移民政策綱領), which was proposed by the Cabinet last month, are aimed at improving management of the population structure by attracting foreign investors and "outstanding" white-collar professionals who can contribute to Taiwan's need for scientific development.

"The use of the word `outstanding' is inappropriate," Tseng said. "It's hard to predict the performance of second-generation immigrants. Attracting `outstanding' immigrants now doesn't mean that the next generation will be the same. In the US, second-generation immigrants are very competitive, even though first-generation immigrants didn't necessarily speak or read English."

Tseng suggested that bilingual schools and educational programs presented in Mandarin and Vietnamese or other Southeast-Asian languages could promote the integration of immigrants into Taiwanese society.

Tsay Ching-lung (蔡青龍), coordinator of the Taiwanese Migration Research Network, said there was a need for facilities devoted to the study of long-term immigration needs and trends.

"Our current immigration policies have been formulated in a hurry to deal with problems as they came up. To prevent rushed policy-making in future, we need to establish a bureau of immigration research, like the one in Australia," Tsay said.

Tsay expressed approval for the policies geared toward attracting foreign professionals and investors.

"It's not a matter of whether we want this policy or not. This is what has to be done if we are to stay competitive as a nation," Tsay said.

But despite the definite need for white-collar immigrants, Taiwan also needs laborers, he said.

According to his research, the number of laborers in Taiwan will begin to dwindle by 2015, and by 2030 there will be fewer laborers than there are now.

The research also showed that 10 percent of Taiwan's population will be over the age of 65 by 2011, and by 2031 this figure will increase to 22 percent.

"Taking care of the elderly is not a job that can be fulfilled by professionals in the high-technology industry," Tsay said.

Ko Chyong-fang (柯瓊芳), research fellow at Academia Sinica's Institute of European and American Studies, also said that long-term planning needs to be emphasized in policy-making.

"Immigration policy is about sustainable development. The real question we need to be asking is what kind of population this piece of land can accommodate. What population size do we want in 10 years? Unfortunately, policies always follow in the footsteps of reality and never come before problems hit," Ko said.

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