Sun, Feb 03, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Stateless Thais, Burmese may be granted residence

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The government will grant residence to stateless persons from Thailand and Myanmar who entered Taiwan with fake passports before May 21, 1999, as long as a local court has processed their case, National Immigration Agency officials said on Friday.

If the stateless persons have turned themselves in to authorities and a court has decided not to indict them, commuted their indictment or settled their case, those court documents can be used as verification of their stateless status during their application for permanent residence.

Under the Immigration Act (移民法) that took effect on May 21, 1999, the stateless persons were not only required to turn themselves in to authorities but also had to obtain a document from their home country attesting to their inability to return home.

That documentation proved nearly impossible to get, leaving the cases of many of the illegal immigrants in limbo. Following Friday's decision, that documentation is no longer necessary.

Those individuals from Thailand and Myanmar who arrived with fake travel documents before May 21, 1999 but did not turn themselves in and had no contact with local courts can still report to authorities to obtain court verification of their stateless status.

The new measure is intended to resolve the dilemma faced by ethnic Chinese refugees from northern Thailand and Myanmar who have entered Taiwan with fake travel documents.

Many of them are descendants of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) soldiers who retreated to the region after losing the civil war in China in 1949.

The problem remained unanswered after the implementation of the Immigration Act, which stipulates that stateless people coming to Taiwan from Thailand, Myanmar or Indonesia before the law's implementation shall be granted residence in the country.

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