Hot! Thailand to Deport Illegal Migrant Workers

By Tripti Chaudhary

The employment department at the Ministry of Labor in Thailand is threatening more than a million migrant workers to be deported back due to incomplete nationality verification.

Most of the illegal migrant workers are Burmese. Up till now, about 900,000 entered the nationality verification program, of which 350,000 are still waiting to receive their documents back, and more than a million were unable to apply for the program.

Rights groups claim the nationality verification program is well-intentioned by providing legal protection, however due to poor planning it is being exploited by corrupt brokers, officials, and employers.

“So, whereas the migrants become legal through this process, the costs are very exorbitant,” said Andy Hall, a migrant specialist at Mahidol University’s Migration Center. “And, what we’ve seen is, we’ve seen a shift from like this informal corruption by police officers, who are shaking down workers, immigration officials and labor officials, who are taking money from workers. We’ve seen a shift from that to this irregulated broker system whereby brokers who are in charge of national verification process, who are in charge of issuing passports, are now getting money through these vulnerable migrants through these other means.”

He additionally said that the brokers charge about $600 for the migrant workers documentation, which costs months’ worthy of wages.

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