Illegal immigration, a national concern

The National Council’s (NC) concern on the rising number of illegal immigrants based on the Legislative Committee’s report must receive attention and priority of the relevant authorities. It will have huge repercussions on the country’s sovereignty and security if left unattended.

It is reported that an estimated 20,000 day-workers such as maids and babysitters are working in the border towns everyday without work permits. The report also estimates that DANTAK employs 3,000 illegal immigrants while IMTRAT is estimated to hold 2,000 workers without work permits.

However, these figures are only estimates and it is believed that the total figure could be higher.

The preamble of the Immigration Act states: “To ensure that the Kingdom remains free from illegal immigrants and to retain control on the immigration of foreigners for the security and prosperity of the nation…”. This clearly resonates with the legislative intention. And adequate provisions were incorporated in the Act.

And yet, nine years after the implementation of the Act, which was enacted to address this very issue, we see this grievous problem on the rise. It’s time to do some serious inner soul searching on why we are failing. The answer may yet again be weak implementation, which over the years has been pointed out by observers.

It has become urgent to implement the rule of law without exceptions in the country. And this applies even more so when it concerns immigration.

During the opening ceremony of the 7th session of the first Parliament on May 20, 2011, His Majesty The King said: “Today, as I have said before, our immediate and foremost duty is the success of democracy. That is our foundation for the future success of Bhutan. But democracy can only flourish if all Bhutanese uphold the rule of law…”.

As a small nation, we must get our priorities right and addressing the illegal immigration issue is priority number one. An increase in the population as a result of illegal immigration puts more pressure on our public services and can also increase the rate of unemployment, among others.

We must address this issue now before it is too late.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    The issue is of ‘Illegal Immigration’ is well understood by almost all of us as a national issue. At times, it can even be a threat to a nation’s security and its economy. We also understand even bigger a social and economic issue of ‘Rural-Urban Migration’.

    It may also be a possibility that a seasoned economist may come up with similar causal factors as he tries to arrive at the roots of both the issues. But this is always true that both the cases of ‘illegal immigration’ and ‘rural-urban migration’ can’t be studied on the same platform. The causal relationships may be similar, but treatments always need to be different.

    But if a study is possible on a common platform; ‘human needs for migration’ is a subject that can’t be given a miss. People had been migrating for various reasons from ancient time. Things only changed when states and nation were formed and we got the well defined international borders of today’s time.

    Now we all know that our international borders are not going to be moved and still, people living across the same border do find reasons strong enough to bypass the very legal systems in place for migrating from one nation to another. So as we always continue to discuss the greater issues of ‘illegal immigration’ in any nation; there is a strong need to even discuss the issues with migration within a greater region of different countries keeping the regional socio-economic scenario in mind.

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