Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered a one-month crackdown on foreigners who have overstayed their visas or participated in criminal activities.
The order was given to the Immigration Bureau during a meeting yesterday between the military, royal police and security administration, according to Defence Spokesman Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantrawanit.
In the meeting, Prawit also called for the speeding up of the establishment of an electronic personal identification system, which will be used at all of the country’s border checkpoints with the hope of collecting all immigration information in a single, more organized database.
The crackdown is, reportedly, a response to many citizens’ complaints regarding illegal activity by foreigners, according to T News.
“We ask for the general public’s cooperation to be on surveillance for suspicious foreigners and report all information to authorities,” said General Kongcheep.
In the past several months, the Immigration Bureau has arrested 2,273 foreigners in the country illegally over the course of 35 separate raids, targeting hotels restaurants and schools, reported PPTV.
Just last Thursday, a record 369 foreigners were arrested for overstaying their visas, illegal entry to the country and various petty crimes.
The announcement appears to have received mixed reactions from the expat community.
While, some members of an expat forum advise fellow foreigners to “carry passports or have a photocopy” at all times or to obtain a “Certificate of Residence,” some commenters see this as yet another publicity stunt.
“Just another crackdown announcement, like all the other previous crackdowns before this one … It all sounds great and effective. And it is all forgotten in a week or so,” wrote one commenter.
“They are interested in [arresting] other Asians and Africans, not so much Westerners by the looks of things,” pointed out another.
Immigration Bureau Commissioner Surachet Hakpal said that there are an estimated 50,000 foreigners who have overstayed their visas living in Thailand.