Sun, Aug 19, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Immigration agency chief to stay, MOI minister says

BREAKOUT The minister of the interior defended the immigration agency, saying it was too short on staff and funding to effectively administer the detention center

STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) said that he had asked National Immigration Agency Director Wu Chen-chi (吳振吉) to stay on to help improve security at the nation's detention centers.

Wu had said he was resigning after 10 Vietnamese women escaped from a detention center in Ilan County on Friday, the third mass breakout at the same center.

While saying that some officials would be penalized for the escape, Lee also defended the agency.

He said that the agency, which was inaugurated on Jan. 2, was short on staff and funding to take effective control of the detention center.

Following its inauguration, the immigration agency took over the detention center from the National Police Agency, and the number of staffers was reduced from 160 to 91, Lee said.

Short on budget, the detention center does not even have enough security cameras, Lee said.

"We're aiming to make a total improvement -- not just for the Ilan detention center but nationwide," Lee said.

Lee said that he would call an interagency meeting to address the problem.

Friday's escape by 10 illegal Vietnamese immigrants dealt another blow to the agency, which was still reeling from a string of scandals this month, including two other escapes involving six illegal immigrants.

Agency Deputy Director Steve Wu (吳學燕) on Friday said that the latest escape occurred in the early hours that day after a group of Vietnamese women smuggled a soldering iron into their quarters and melted back the bars over a window, creating a small hole through which they escaped.

He did not elaborate on how the women were able to get their hands on a soldering iron.

The agency issued a news release yesterday, saying that one escaped detainee from Friday's incident has been captured, while police and immigration agents were still searching for the rest.

Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin

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