The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday flatly denied media reports that the government intended to cancel the interview system for Chinese spouses at immigration points near the nation's airports.
The government would only reinforce the port-of-entry interview system, not reduce it, the council said.
"The council knows nothing about such a proposal," a statement issued by the council said yesterday.
The statement was referring to a report which cited high-ranking government sources as saying the MAC, the Ministry of the Interior and the National Security Council had been discussing a proposal to abolish the practice of interviewing Chinese spouses at CKS International Airport, Hsiaokang International Airport in Kaohsiung, as well as on Kinmen and Matsu as early as June.
The report said the reform was part of a series of adjustments, with the ministry formally establishing in May or June an immigration bureau that would be dedicated to handling immigration-related affairs.
The MAC statement said that once the new immigration bureau is established in June, the border interview system will only be further reinforced, as the system is widely regarded as "effective" in detecting fake marriages.
"There is no point in changing current management regulations," the statement said.
"It will not be effective if the port-of-entry interview system is replaced with random interview checks after the immigrants' entry into the country, as this will only cost more in terms of resources to implement," the council said.
The MAC stressed that it would strengthen the port-of-entry interview system for Chinese spouses, as well as investigations into their Taiwanese counterparts.
The government initiated the practice of interviewing Chinese spouses in September 2003 in response to the large number of Chinese women entering the country under the pretext of getting married. Many of the women were actually seeking employment, with a large number reportedly ending up working in the sex industry.
According to official statistics, more than 108,000 people were interviewed from the time the system was started until Feb. 17.
More than 3,700 of those interviewed were deported because of irregularities in their applications.
Backing up the MAC's statement, ministry officials said that interviews for Chinese spouses at airports are not being canceled.
The system is currently effective in preventing illegal immigrants from entering the country, they said.
A 400-person team will be established under the future immigration bureau to crack down on people illegally staying in the country and to cooperate with airport and port authorities in conducting interviews.
Additional reporting by Jean Lin