Shoura to discuss new law to prevent illegal migration

August 27, 2017

Faris Alqahtani

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

RIYADH – The Shoura (Consultative) Council will soon discuss a draft law that aims to prevent illegal migration and settlement in the Kingdom and allows authorities to provide migrants with resident permits if they fulfill certain conditions such as Arabic language proficiency and professional knowledge.

The draft law, which was proposed by Dr. Sadaqa Fadil, a former Shoura member, would be discussed by the consultative body soon after Eid Al-Adha holidays. The proposal includes formation of a committee under the Ministry of Interior to study the condition of illegal migrants.

The committee will have the power to make recommendations to either grant such migrants Saudi nationality or resident permit or instruct authorities to deport them in order to employ Saudis in positions held by illegal aliens over the past years.

In order to get resident permit, a Muslim migrant should have an age of not less than 30 and not more than 50, should be in good health, must know written and spoken Arabic, should have stayed not less than five years and should know a profession required by the job market.

Dr. Fadil spoke about the negative impact of illegal migration on the Kingdom. Such migrants will be using the infrastructure in a haphazard manner and increase unemployment among Saudis. They will be making suspicious foreign remittances, which will undermine the economy.

“Illegal foreign migrants are likely to commit crimes and engage in various negative practices that would negatively affect the society. They will also create security problems,” he told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

Fadil also expressed fears that such migrants could create political problems in the country by setting up groups, adding that the Kingdom would come under international pressure to provide them with nationality and special care given by the government to its citizens.

The security committee at the Shoura Council previously rejected the proposal saying it has been covered by the border security law, nationality law and resident permit law.

The Kingdom has been conducting nationwide campaigns to drive out illegal aliens who stay in the country violating its labor and residency regulations. It announced two amnesties to allow illegal foreign workers either to correct their legal status or leave the country without punishment.

Thousands of foreign workers were either given legal resident permits or allowed to leave the Kingdom without punishment during the two campaigns. Since 2015, security patrols have been given the task of arresting and deporting illegal foreign workers.

Passport Department officers have been deployed to track down foreign visitors and Haj and Umrah pilgrims who overstay their visas. A fingerprinting system was introduced to prevent illegal aliens from entering the Kingdom while tough punishment was imposed on overstayers and Haj and Umrah service companies that allow their pilgrims to overstay in the country.

After operation decisive storm in Yemen, Saudi Arabia provided resident permits to a large number of Yemenis who were staying illegally in the Kingdom. Hundreds of Syrian refugees who fled civil war in their country were also given resident permits and jobs in the Kingdom.

The new expat dependant levy imposed by the government has forced many foreign workers to leave the Kingdom or send back their families. According to the latest report published by the Interior Ministry, more than 500,000 illegal workers have left the country.

“So illegal migration is not a big problem in the Kingdom now like a few years back thanks to the efforts of the Interior Ministry and its security agencies,” said a security analyst.

August 27, 2017
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