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11,790 Immigration Offenders Arrested in 2004


The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) would like to announce that the stepped-up checks at the checkpoints and our tough enforcement action had resulted in the arrests of 11,790 immigration offenders (IOs) in 2004. ICA will continue to intensify our efforts against the immigration offender situation here.
On 16 Feb 2005 between 0200 hours and 0400 hours, ICA officers mounted an operation against immigration offenders staying at lodging houses at Rambutan Road and in Joo Chiat. A total of 33 IOs were arrested at these two premises.
Our officers found the living conditions of the two premises to be dirty and overcrowded. A few had tried to escape but were soon caught by officers guarding the possible escape routes. The 33 IOs (all males) nabbed were from India and Bangladesh and aged between 24 and 59.
ICA takes a serious view of attempts by foreigners to overstay or enter Singapore illegally. Under the Immigration Act (Cap 133), the penalties for overstaying or illegal entry are a jail term of up to six months plus a minimum of three strokes of the cane.
Immigration Offender Situation 2004
Illegal Immigrants
Our vigilance and stepped-up security checks at the various checkpoints have continued to deter the smuggling of illegal immigrants in and out of Singapore.
A total of 5,400 illegal immigrants were arrested in 2004. The majority of illegal immigrants arrested were from India, Myanmar and the People's Republic of China. Together, they accounted for 78 per cent of total illegal immigrants arrested. The number of vehicles seized for the commission of smuggling offences has also fallen from 43 in 2002 to 20 last year.
The number of overstayers arrested in 2004 was 6,390. The majority of the overstayers arrested (about 79 per cent) were from India, the People's Republic of China and Thailand.
Together with our Home Team partner, the Singapore Police Force, we will continue to flush out immigration offenders to maintain the safety and security of our community. We will also not hesitate to take action against harbourers and employers of immigration offenders.
Harbourers and Employers of immigration offenders
Stepped-up checks and enforcement are part of ICA's multi-pronged approach in dealing with the immigration offender situation. ICA had also embarked on a series of community involvement activities to raise public awareness of the situation, as well as to deter the harbouring and employment of immigration offenders.
These include conducting talks to grassroots leaders and residents on how to conduct the due diligence checks required by the Immigration Act and to look out for the security features of immigration passes, work passes and NRICs.
Last year, ICA also briefed the Association of Employment Agencies to educate them on identifying immigration offenders who may approach them for work opportunities.
Recently, ICA conducted briefing sessions to familiarise housing agents with the new requirement under the Immigration Act for them to conduct due diligence checks before they recommend a prospective tenant to a homeowner. ICA will also be distributing pamphlets warning against the harbouring of immigration offenders to all homeowners.
The efforts of the authorities to create greater awareness of the immigration offender problem and the penalties for employing and harbouring immigration offenders have, once again, paid off. In 2004, the number of persons arrested for harbouring and employing immigration offenders fell by 24 per cent and 19 per cent respectively. In fact, the number of harbourers and employers arrested has been falling since 2002. (See Annex.)
Everyone Has a Part to Play
Immigration offenders pose potential law and order problems in Singapore. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring the security and safety of Singapore.
Singaporeans should not employ or harbour immigration offenders. Without a job or shelter, these immigration offenders will not find it attractive to come to Singapore. We would urge members of public with information regarding immigration offenders to call ICA at Tel: 1800-391 6150 or contact the Police.
When in doubt about the status of their prospective tenants, homeowners and housing agents can make use of VERIFI (VERIfication of Foreigner Immigration Status) and iCHECK (Identity Card Checking Facility) to verify the immigration passes and NRICs of their prospective tenants respectively.
The VERIFI and iCHECK services are available at ICA's website:  Similarly, MOM has a system to allow the checking on the validity of work passes at its website:
As our country's first line of defence against terrorist threats, the checkpoints play a crucial part in ensuring the security and safety of Singapore. ICA have and will remain vigilant when conducting security checks on all passengers and vehicles at the checkpoints to prevent attempts to smuggle in undesirable persons, drugs, weapons, explosives and other contraband.
Besides deterring attempts to smuggle illegal immigrants through our checkpoints, about 18,255 cases of attempted contraband smuggling were also thwarted by ICA last year.
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority
17 Feb 05
More..... (Annex)

Source: Immigration & Checkpoints Authority Press Release 17 Feb 2005


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4 March 2005