Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Proposed revisions to the Immigration Control Law

A thoroughgoing revision of the Immigration Control Law has been proposed by a Democratic Party member, reports the Korea Times:
A bill has been proposed that would require immigration officers to submit a court-issued warrant before entering a building or house to search for undocumented immigrants. Rep. Lee Chun-seok of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) proposed a revision bill Monday that calls for overhauling the Immigration Control Law.

The Human Rights Commission has repeatedly recommended the government revise the law that permits immigration crackdowns with a warrant. The commission expressed concern that immigration officers tend to enter workplaces employing illegal foreigners without producing IDs and carry out raids without seeking permission, often inflicting physical injury.

Three people were killed and 24 were wounded during crackdowns between January 2005 and August 2009, according to the Ministry of Justice. Under the proposal, night raids would be banned, even if a warrant is issued. Instead, the bill calls for random questioning in accordance with the rules that apply to Korean nationals.

The bill also would remove a provision that bans political activities of foreigners, as Korea has already granted suffrage to them in certain elections. In May 2005, the government revised the Election Law to allow foreigners who have lived in Korea for more than three years to vote in local elections. Foreign absentee voters are already allowed to cast ballots by mail or at their embassies here.

The number of illegal aliens decreased to 181,331 in October, down from 210,596 during the same period a year ago, according to the Korean Immigration Service.

The bill also calls for excluding foreigners who have received a suspended sentence from a local court from deportation. In addition, if a suspected illegal alien challenges a deportation order, the government must complete the review of his or her right to stay here within 20 days. The bill also would require the immigration service to provide deportation orders and documents that explain the process to foreigners in their native languages.
Comprehensive indeed. Reining in some of the powers of immigration police strikes me as a good thing, seeing as they seem to have far fewer limits on their powers than other law enforcement officers. Does anyone know if tasers are used against Korean demonstrators by riot police or regular police? I know they've been used against migrant workers before, but don't know if they've been used on them exclusively. Removing the provision that bans political activities of foreigners is certainly interesting, and could certainly open up new avenues (and makes sense if some people are allowed to vote but could still technically be arrested while voting). Excluding foreigners who have received a suspended sentence from a local court from deportation also seems to make sense - if the court saw fit to give them no jail time, one imagines the crime would not be severe enough to warrant deportation... but then considering how many people who have committed sex crimes in the past have gotten off with only suspended sentences, perhaps that's not the best argument.

Also, if the "number of illegal aliens decreased to 181,331 in October, down from 210,596 during the same period a year ago," is this due to sustained crackdowns (last I heard, the immigration prisons can only hold 3000 or so people, so they'd have to be quickly deporting them to cause a decrease) or have they been slowing the number of people coming into Korea to work under the EPS, or have there been any amnesties allowing overstayers to leave without punishment? I'd be curious to know how many people have been deported this year to see its effect on the figure above.

Lastly, as good as this looks, it's being proposed by the opposition, so there's no guarantee this would pass in the GNP-controlled National Assembly.

(Hat tip to Tom Rainey-Smith)


Chris in South Korea said...

Some nice changes, if anything comes of them. Is there any way we could support this beyond simply blogging about it? Obviously we can't vote, but talking it up might increase the buzz.

OTOH, how many proposals have been made that never saw the light of day or ink from a paper ever again? Any way to calculate the 'proposals-to-proposals-that-actually become-law ratio'?

Nathan said...

If this bill passes, I would be seriously encouraged. But I have a feeling it won't.

Helen said...

taser gun? it's used against 쌍용자동차 노조시위 last summer for the first time. it stired up a controversy.