Thu, Dec 27, 2018 - Page 3 News List

KMT blames Tsai policy for illegal immigrants

BORDER CONTROL ISSUE:Last year 90 percent of visa-related irregularities were committed by people from Southeast Asia, KMT caucus whip Johnny Chiang said

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers at a news conference in Taipei yesterday call on the Cabinet to hold an intra-ministerial review of the government’s New Southbound Policy after 152 Vietnamese tourists were reported missing.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday warned that the government’s New Southbound Policy could result in Taiwan becoming a hotbed for illegal immigration, after 152 Vietnamese tourists were reported missing since arriving in Kaohsiung over the weekend.

Citing statistics from the National Immigration Agency, KMT caucus whip Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said that between 2015 and March this year, 1,946 visitors to Taiwan were reported missing, and 2,047 tourists entered the nation illegally or engaged in activities other than those permitted by their visas.

“Last year alone, 90 percent of such irregularities were committed by people from Southeast Asia, with Vietnamese accounting for 46 percent of the cases,” Chiang told a news conference in Taipei.

While the KMT caucus welcomed tourists from Southeast Asian countries and increased people-to-people exchanges between them and Taiwan, loosely granting visas or visa privileges to people from targeted nations just to drive up tourist numbers would only create border control problems, Chiang said.

The KMT caucus called the news conference one day after the Tourism Bureau revealed that 152 of 153 Vietnamese who had joined tours arranged by the ETHoliday travel agency left the groups after their arrival in Taiwan.

The missing Vietnamese, who traveled to Taiwan using an electronic visa program called the “Kuan Hung Pilot Project,” belonged to five different tour groups, one of which arrived on Friday and four that arrived on Sunday, the bureau said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has canceled the issuance of visas to 182 Vietnamese who had also been granted a visa by the bureau through the pilot project.

KMT caucus secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) said that as of yesterday there are nearly 80,000 foreigners, including migrant workers who have escaped their work contracts, who remain in Taiwan on an expired visa.

“These people could be working illegally in Taiwan and engaging in the sex trade, posing a serious threat to our social security,” Tseng said, blaming the problem on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) New Southbound Policy, which he said was launched to make up for a decline in the number of Chinese tourists.

He urged the Executive Yuan to immediately convene an intra-ministerial meeting to re-evaluate the New Southbound Policy’s visa arrangements.

KMT caucus deputy secretary-general John Wu (吳志揚) said he suspected that human smuggling rings could be behind missing groups of foreign tourists, such as the 152 Vietnamese.

As the travel agency does not have the authority to decide who is granted a visa, the responsible government agencies should engage in serious reflection to avoid becoming accomplices to smuggling rings, Wu said.

He also suggested that Tsai pay for the expenses required to deport the 152 missing Vietnamese tourists herself, saying that her administration made entry to Taiwan easier for Vietnamese in August, despite knowing the high rate at which they go missing.

Wu was referring to the government’s policy of allowing visa-free entry into Taiwan to people from Vietnam and five other Southeast Asian countries if they hold a resident card or visa for Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, any EU or Schengen countries, the UK, or the US that has expired less than 10 years prior to their date of arrival.

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