200,000 Burmese Face Deportation from Thailand

By The Irrawaddy 16 October 2012

About 200,000 illegal Burmese migrant workers are among some 400,000 illegal foreign workers who are due to be deported back to their respected countries in December this year, according to a report by the Bangkok Post, a Thailand-based newspaper.

Speaking with The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, Andy Hall, a migration expert at Mahidol University in Bangkok, said that the 200,000 Burmese nationals are those who haven’t completed the national verification process.

Most Burmese migrants to Thailand have not pursued the official steps of verifying their identities because they fear handing over biographical information and their addresses in Burma to the authorities. Many worry that their families will be harassed by local authorities.

The nationality verification process is due to expire on Dec. 14. The deadline was originally in 2011, but most migrants had failed to attend any of the verification centers by that time. The deadline was extended until June 14, and then again to Dec. 14.

Thailand’s Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap told the Bangkok Post that the 400,000 migrant workers will be repatriated to their home countries if they fail to complete the verification process by the given deadline.

Only 1.3 million out of 1.7 million foreign migrants in Thailand have completed the national verification, said the minister. Foreign migrant workers in the kingdom are mostly from neighboring Burma, he added.

Padermchai said this is the final warning for migrants and that they will be deported if they fail to enter the process by the given date.

Under the national verification program, migrant workers are granted a two-year work permit, which may then be renewed for another two years.

There are eight verification centers in Thailand: in Bangkok, Samut Sakorn, Samut Prakan, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Tak and Ranong.