Undocumented Workers, the Most Vulnerable, the Most Exploited

In Belgium, there is no moratorium on deportation. Each day, 16 undocumented migrants are deported while 8,700 have been turned away from its borders.

In 2006, the Dutch government announced that 26,000 failed asylum seekers and undocumented would be deported.

In 2006, one million were apprehended at the borders of Europe.

South American governments led by Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador condemned the Directive as “outrageous” and a violation of human rights. United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante also condemned the Return Directive.

Taguba maintained, “Fortress Europe is mainstreaming far-right arguments that migrants are taking away jobs, harming communities, parasitically feeding on the social system, spreading HIV/AIDS and recruiting terrorists. Linking migration to terrorism is giving rise to heavily policed and militarized borders.”

He said politicians with anti-migrant views were elected into office. Such were the case in France, Italy, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland. In the upcoming 2009 elections for the European Parliament, the center-right and far-right which are anti-migrant, are expected to gain more seats and therefore influence the shaping of migration policies.


Undocumented migrants in Asia also face deportation. Their human rights are also being violated.

Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said that in Singapore, so-called “illegal” migrants are fined, imprisoned and caned. Those caught entering or remaining in Singapore without a valid pass and those illegally overstaying for a period exceeding 90 days would have to endure 24 cane strokes at the back.

She said many Filipino immigrants also enter a country legally, but with only a tourist visa, to find jobs mostly in Asian, European and North American countries. Majority of them overstay or fail to get their permits renewed and thus become ‘illegal.’

“Such is the case of thousands of Filipino workers stranded on the Iranian island of Kish and Omani town of Buraimi, Dubai due to new and stricter visa rules implemented by the United Arab Emirates. The new visa rules in the UAE forced Filipinos who enter the UAE with tourist visas to leave the territory and stay in bordering countries for at least a month. Kish law forbids foreigners from sleeping in private homes, so migrant workers are forced to stay in relatively affordable but cramped and filthy hotels,” said Ilagan.

In Sabah, Malaysia, massive crackdown on ‘illegal aliens’ violated the human rights of migrants, said Ilagan. In 2002, more than 300,000 foreign workers, mostly Filipinos and Indonesians without valid documents were sent back home.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos, half of them women and children, had been caught and cramped in appalling detention cells. They were detained for weeks before they were deported back to their countries of origin.

Ilagan said, “Sabah newspapers confirmed the Malaysian authorities’ cruelties: beating and manhandling of men, children and even pregnant women. Dozens of women had been raped by police or jail guards; one of them a 13-year-old girl. Just like in previous crackdowns, countless people, especially children, fell physically, emotionally and psychologically ill, and at least 12 babies and children died while in detention due to dehydration, starvation and disease.”

The same incidents happened again in 2005. The same rights violations are inflicted again on ‘illegal aliens’ in the 2008 crackdown.

Ilagan quoted Al Jazeera, a news and current affairs channel that was able to video-document the Filipinos’ experience in Sabah, thus: “The relas, armed civilians given police power by the Malaysian government to arrest suspected ‘illegal’ migrants, forcibly enter houses in the middle of the night when the unsuspecting occupants are sleeping. If they are unable to show proper documents, a person, regardless of age or no matter in what health condition he or she is in, would be arrested and cramped together with around 150 to 400 people in deplorable detention cells. The arrested is made to sleep on the cold cement floor and is fed spoiled food, if at all.

In the same documentary, a Filipino, whose working papers had already expired, was arrested during a raid. Being a single parent, his five very young children were also taken to jail with him.

Ilagan, who joined a fact-finding mission this October, said she witnessed firsthand the Philippine government’s lack of assistance for the detainees in Sabah and the lack of preparation in providing relief goods and services to deportees.

She said that government agencies that comprise the Inter-Agency Committee are not coordinating their efforts and failed to probe the plight of deportees from Sabah.

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