The Control Yuan on Tuesday approved a measure requiring the Executive Yuan, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) and the Ministry of Labor to take steps to correct regulatory flaws that have resulted in nearly 500 babies born to migrant workers since 2007 being undocumented.
A total of 496 unregistered children were reported to the NIA from January 2007 to June this year, Control Yuan member Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲) told a news conference.
The number accounts for more than 5 percent of the 9,381 babies born in Taiwan to foreign parents during that period, she said, adding that the figure could be even higher, as some pregnant migrant workers give birth outside hospital, so the government does not know about it.
“It is difficult to get an accurate number,” Wang said.
She said she expects the trend to continue, because 78 percent of female migrant workers in Taiwan are in their child-bearing years.
Children of migrants must obtain residency to avail of government services, such as healthcare and education, Wang said.
According to a Control Yuan investigation, the government’s handling mechanism for migrant children is ineffective, resulting in an increase in the number of undocumented babies that could lead to a human rights problem.
Although the Act of Gender Equality in Employment (性別工作平等法) stipulates that employers cannot dismiss pregnant employees, the law has not been effectively implemented, she said.
Pregnant migrant workers, especially caretakers for elderly people, are usually dismissed immediately, she added.
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Taiwan’s Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法), children should be registered right after birth, irrespective of the legal status of their parents.
To make the situation even more difficult for undocumented children of migrant workers, the law stipulates that they can only apply for naturalization through social welfare agencies when they reach the age of 20, unless they are adopted by Republic of China citizens.
Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said her office would comment after receiving written confirmation of the Control Yuan’s measure.
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