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NSC says immigrant policy fails -

Bangkok Post (29 November 1997)
NSC says immigrant policy fails
MPs want all alien workers repatriated

Yuwadee Tanyasiri

The National Security Council has admitted that the policy of registering
alien workers and clamping down on illegal entries has failed.

The NSC's admission came a day after the House Committee on Labour and
Social Welfare called on the government to repatriate all immigrant
workers because they were forcing a rising number of Thais out of work.

Deputy secretary-general Khachadpai Burusapatana said the number of alien
workers registered had fallen short of target - only 290,000-300,000
workers had registered by November last year out of an estimated 700,000.

The cabinet last year allowed immigrant workers to work in 43 of the
country's 72 provinces. The Interior Ministry also ordered in June last
year that employers register them with the authorities between September
and November last year. They would then be allowed to work for two years
before being repatriated.

The Interior Ministry recently proposed that the registration period be
extended to allow more to sign up. 

However, the proposal was criticised by Thai labour unions and the House
Committee on Labour and Social Welfare which argued that alien workers
would dominate the labour market and lead to Thais losing their jobs to
low-wage workers, mostly from Burma, Laos, and Cambodia.

The House committee yesterday said there were now one million illegal
immigrants in the country.

The NSC deputy secretary-general urged the government to review its
policy on alien worker registration, saying it failed to control illegal

The policy had encouraged immigrants, particularly from Burma, to enter
the country illegally in the hope of a better future, said Mr Khachadpai,
adding that Burmese workers sneaked into the country via 75 border

"As long as our neighbouring countries are stricken with poverty,
drought, and internal problems, there will continue to be an influx of
rural poor into our country. We have to spend a huge sum of money to
crack down on these illegal workers every year. Now it's time to jointly
draw up concrete measures to solve the illegal entry problems," said the
NSC chief.

Commenting on the Labour and Social Welfare Ministry's estimate that the
number of alien workers is as high as one million people, the NSC
secretary-general said official surveys had been unable to establish the
exact number.

The House Committee on Labour and Social Welfare has also urged agencies
concerned to repatriate non-registered alien workers for the sake of the
rising number of jobless Thais.