Taiwan’s immigration app criminalizes migrants and can be prone to abuse

 

Reference: Ramon Bultron, APMM managing director
Contact details: +852-2723-7536, ramon@apmigrants.org

 

The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) raises the alarm on the recent migrant-focused smartphone application that Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency (NIA) has recently launched.

The said application, or app, according to news reports, will identify whether a migrant worker has violated her employment visa or residence permit or not. By scanning the bar code on the ARC (Alien Resident Certificate) card and inputting relevant information (i.e. ARC number, issuance and expiry dates) on the app, anyone can immediately know the migrant worker’s immigration status or identity.

The app, to the APMM, is absurd, grossly unfair to migrant workers, and only increases the level of insecurity that many of them are already placed in. Furthermore, it skirts the actual and much-needed resolution by the Taiwan authorities of problems confronting migrant workers in Taiwan.

Why not immediately resolve cases of contract violations, underpayment or non-payment of wages, human trafficking, labor exploitation and abuse experienced by migrant workers in the workplace? Why not penalize erring agencies and companies? Why not recognize domestic work as work and include caregivers and other home-based migrant workers in the Labor Standard Act? Why not create more protective mechanisms and services for migrant workers in distress?

Probably unintended but the app only puts undocumented migrant workers in a bad light, like they are criminals. It is not aimed to find out how and why migrant workers run away or become undocumented. The APMM believes that the greater migrant populace will not choose to be undocumented unless they are placed in a very difficult situation.

For the APMM, the app’s implementation will only increase the level of intimidation and harassment that migrant workers experience. In the long run, it may be used to infringe the right of privacy of not only the migrant workers but everyone as well.

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