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Mainland Affairs Council

Cross-Strait Exchanges Archives

A description on the repatriation of illegal immigrants from the mainland

December 1999 

The wealthiness and prosperity of Taiwan attract many people from the mainland to migrate illegally into Taiwan. From 1987 to November 30 1999, the government had arrested an average of some 250 illegal immigrants every month, according to statistical reports. The reports also indicated that there are a total of some 38, 000 of them detained and their living expensed worth a total of some NT$600,000,000. 

        The mainland side did not comply with the "Kimmen Agreement" under the effect of which all detained illegal immigrants shall be received back to the mainland within 20 days of their detentions. They always use different kinds of pretexts such as the vessels for the picking up those illegal immigrants are in routine maintenance or in repair due to mechanical failure, social functions were held due to certain festivities, or the police from the native places of the illegal immigrants were not available for escorting them back. As such, the repatriations of illegal immigrants from the mainland were usually delayed or declined by the other side. Eventually, the average detention time for each detainee is as long as some 150 days (over five months). Currently, some 37,000 had been repatriated, with a remaining population of some one thousand accommodated in the centers all over the island. Among them, 430 had been detained for more than half a year, 76 for over a year, 8 for over 2 years, 8 for over 3 years and a few for as long as up to six years. Still, the mainland side shows no intention of picking them up for home. 

     The detainees suffered from homesickness, however. The Mainland Affairs Commission always arranges visitors from outside and prepares direct telephone lines for them to call homes in the mainland during particular folk festivals. The mainland side not only failed to comply with the "Kimmen Agreement", but also declined to listen to the voices of the detainees---"please let us go home earlier". Although we had urged them to speed up the picking up process, they did not respond. Under emotional stresses, some detainees misbehaved and unrest occurred in the accommodation centers at times. In this year, it has been reported that some of the detainees declined ingestion, and even held police as hostages. 

<        Perhaps they suffered economic hardship in the mainland, which resulted in their using of any channel available to migrated to countries like the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia illegally. Those activities had caused social disorder both in the mainland and in those countries, and attracted serious international concerns. As a member of the international community, the mainland authorities should restrict their people from illegal migration and strengthen the control over boarder patrol and security. 

        The issue over the repatriation of illegal immigrants had been discussed for several times, but the dialogue was halted under the unilateral suspension of talk by the mainland side in June 1995. We ask for a resumption of talk and the reaching of an agreement as soon as possible. Before further agreement will be signed, we wish the mainland side act in compliance with the "Kimmen Agreement", and allow the illegal immigrants detained in the accommodation centers to go home earlier.