268 illegal immigrants deported in May: NIA

TAIPEI (CNA) – A total of 268 illegal immigrants were sent back to their respective countries in May, the highest number under an amnesty program that was launched at the beginning of the year, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said on June 5

In a statement, the NIA said it has accelerated its deportations since April so that the immigrants can return home in time for the June 7 Dragon Boat Festival or for Eid al- Fitr — the Muslim “Festival of Breaking the Fast.”

At the NIA’s detention center in Taipei, detainees from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Malaysia were treated to zhongzhi — traditional rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves, which are usually eaten around the time of the Dragon Boat Festival, the NIA said.

The amnesty program will run until June 30 with the aim of reducing the number of illegal immigrants in the country, which was approaching 90,000, according to the NIA.

During the amnesty period, illegal immigrants who turn themselves will face a maximum penalty of only NT$2,000 (US$63.75) and a limited re-entry ban or suspension of visa-free privileges, the NIA said.

After the amnesty expires, however, the fines against illegal immigrants who are arrested will increase to a maximum NT$10,000 and they will be subject to a longer re-entry ban, the NIA said.

By Flor Wang and Huang Li-yun