Fri, Jul 23, 2004 - Page 3 News List

TSU demands action on illegal Chinese immigrants

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

TSU caucus whip Chen Chien-ming calls for better monitoring of Chinese arrivals on tourist visas or on visas for visiting relatives at a press conference yesterday.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FENG, TAIPEI TIMES

The government should step up action against illegal Chinese immigrants by raising rewards for police and building detention centers on outlying islands to hold them, a Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislator said yesterday.

TSU caucus whip Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) urged the government to interview Chinese immigrants regularly to warn them off working illegally, and suggested that smugglers and hirers of illegal labor be forced to pay for the detainees' expenses.

Chen said that ever since the legislature amended the Statute Governing the Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) earlier this year which loosened restrictions on Chinese visitors, it had become easier for visitors to go underground and work illegally.

Chen said that although the government had prepared a budget to reward police officers who catch illegal immigrants, the budget for this year had already been used up.

"The government needs to prepare a bigger budget in future to encourage police to catch escapees so that rights of Taiwanese citizens and workers are protected," Chen said.

"In the past, most Chinese people who attempted to enter Taiwan would come via illegal channels, but now they can come to Taiwan legally either in the name of traveling or visiting relatives," he said. "A portion of them, though entering legally, are actually working illegally in Taiwan."

Chen said that if the government did not review its measures controlling Chinese tourists, the nation's security and domestic markets could be badly affected.

"If the government does not reinforce monitoring and control measures, we will oppose government moves to further lift restrictions on Chinese visitors," he said.

"We also demand that the government build detention centers on outlying islands so that Chinese detainees will be kept away from the temptations of mainland Taiwan," Chen said. "After they are sent back to China, they won't want to return."

The Immigration Office res-ponded to Chen's statement saying that the government had already built a detention center in Matsu to house illegal immigrants.

"We have tried our best to nail the smugglers and employers [of illegal Chinese labor] so that when we catch illegal immigrants we can force them to pay their expenses," said Ho Sen-kuei (何森桂), a section head at the Immigration Office.

Chiou Hsin-ying (丘信英), head of the office's Mainland Chinese Visitor Affairs Section, said: "Since March, we have also shortened the period of stay for Chinese visitors, and there has been a remarkable reduction in the number of Chinese visitors since then."

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