The Thai government’s new migrant labor policy has seen a rise in police raids on factories that employ migrant workers, especially from Burma, Loas and Cambodia. There are reportedly up to a million unregistered migrant workers in Thailand. Human rights advocates say many workers are now taking steps to meet the new legal requirements to avoid deportation or jail. The latest sweep of arrests is creating fear among migrants.
At a school in central Bangkok Burmese migrant workers come weekends to study languages and gain vital work skills. It is also a meeting place to exchange news and their current concern is of a government crackdown against migrant workers as part of official policy to register all migrant workers in Thailand.
But the policy is not going well, especially for those migrants from Myanmar. While migrant workers from Laos and Cambodia are able to obtain documents from offices inside Thailand, those from Myanmar have been forced to return home, and often to face added taxation, extortion, beatings and other violence.
The government set a February 28 deadline but required all those who had entered the process to have completed it by 2012.
But tens of thousands who have applied have not completed their paperwork. Thousands of others have failed even to begin the process. This leaves them vulnerable to arrest and deportation.