Accidental arrest of undocumented migrant worker receiving vaccine sparks outrage

A Filipino undocumented migrant worker was arrested on Tuesday after trying to get a vaccine shot, sparking outrage among Taiwanese. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — A 50-year-old Filipino undocumented migrant worker was arrested after attempting to receive a vaccine shot on Tuesday, sparking outrage among the community.

It was reported that the migrant worker headed to a vaccination station after the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) announced that undocumented migrants would not be ambushed if they wished to receive vaccine shots.

However, upon arrival at the Hsinchu County health bureau, she was engaged in a short dispute with the medical staff as it appeared some of her documents were incomplete.

The health bureau then notified the police who then discovered that the woman had been undocumented for two years and her work visa had also been expired for 700 days.

She was then taken into custody, which enraged the public as it seemed the government was going back on its word of leaving undocumented migrant workers alone when they receive vaccines.

The health bureau then claimed that undocumented migrant workers need to “turn themselves in” before they receive vaccine shots, adding that the National Immigration Agency (NIA, 移民署) team at hand will then ask them to write a confession, and pay the fines of overstaying before they can get vaccinated.

This has been widely disputed, however, and the woman was released after the central government explained that they will show leniency under the circumstances of the immediate threat the Omicron virus poses to Taiwan.

CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) later reiterated that it doesn’t matter if the visas or work permits of undocumented migrant workers have expired. As long as they show relevant documentation to let staff members confirm their identities, they can receive vaccine shots.