NIA responds to concerns about illegal migrant workers stranded in Taiwan

新冠肺炎疫情爆發後,越南迅速鎖國、停飛國際航班,造成大量在台被抓獲的越南籍失聯移工無法被遣返而因此滯留在移民署收容所。(圖/資料照)|Since the outbreak of the epidemic, Vietnam has been on lockdown and stopped international flights, causing a large number of Vietnamese migrant workers arrested in Taiwan stranded in The National Immigration Agency (移民署, NIA) shelters, unable to be repatriated. (file photo)

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, Vietnam has been on lockdown, meaning that a large number of Vietnamese migrant workers arrested in Taiwan have been stranded in shelters of the National Immigration Agency (移民署, NIA). 

Authorities indicate that more than 1,000 Vietnamese are waiting for their repatriation.

According to current regulations, foreigners can only stay in an asylum for a maximum of 100 days. They should be released if authorities cannot repatriate them after that benchmark. With Vietnam’s borders closed, for the time being, NIA officials said they have to release some migrant workers first and rearrest them later.

In response to this emerging situation, the NIA implemented a new policy to manage illegal migrant workers. 

They are required to provide a contact number, address, information of a guarantor, and to report regularly to immigration authorities so that the department could track their whereabouts.

By complying with the policy, illegal migrant workers can stay free. 

However, recent media reports have suggested that releasing the illegal migrant workers provides an opportunity for Vietnamese offenders to engage in illegal activities, which sparked public concern.

To this, the NIA has made five points of clarification in response:

1. Most of the inmates of the NIA shelters are runaway migrant workers or overstayers who have violated administrative regulations, very few of them are involved in minor criminal cases such as theft or forgery.

2. As for major criminal cases such as homicide, the court would normally rule that the migrant be detained in a detention center in accordance with the law and would not be placed under the custody of NIA.

3. The law has a legal limit on the number of days of confinement, and extending it requires the court’s ruling. Therefore, the confined person must be released from the institution once the confinement is expired without an extension permitted by the court.

The law aims to guarantee the personal freedom of the confined migrants, it is not a new policy implemented due to the pandemic.

4. Under the existing restrictions, strict control has been exercised over those who are suspected of having law and order concerns.

For example, they are asked to report to local authorities on a daily basis, make daily telephone calls with the officials, and go on weekly site visits, work with local police to trace the syndicate behind the crime and more.

5. Since the end of May, the Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei (駐台北越南經濟文化辦事處) has been arranging chartered flights for Vietnamese nationals to return home.

NIA has also been coordinating with the office to pursue more special flights for overstayed Vietnamese to be repatriated as soon as possible.