As the latest amnesty to flush out illegal residents expires tomorrow, law-enforcement agencies in the UAE should start a strong campaign to track down those who failed to take advantage of this opportunity.
They should be booked and brought to justice to face harsh punishment — so that others do not dare to violate the law in the future. In this drive, expatriates and business communities should help track illegals, as many of them take shelters within these communities.
The financial crisis of 2008-09 had forced a large number of private companies to close shutters. However, owners of those companies did not fulfil their obligations by closing the immigration files of their employees and closing the company accounts properly.
Many owners left their companies leaving debts and employees behind — most of whom had become illegals upon the expiry of their residence and employment contracts.
This amnesty was announced to let them leave the country without having to face any penalties. Although the majority of illegal workers usually accept the amnesty, there are some who take things for granted. Many of them remain largely undetected and live in the shadows.
In the absence of proper employment and regular income, some of them engage in criminal activities, including begging, mugging and extortion. In order to eliminate illegal foreigners, regular inspections, labour raids and harsh punishment should be imposed on companies hiring illegal workers and those sheltering them.
Also, the immigration and law-enforcement authorities should look at the profile of those applying for visit and transit visas, which are used by some travel agents and tour operators to bring in workers without proper permission.
There are also “shell” and “front” companies formed by agents and small-time investors that are used to recruit workers by “selling” employment permits at a higher price.
These companies do not engage in any business as the sole objective of their owners is to make money by selling employment visas. The authorities should ensure that this practice is stopped immediately.