For more than ten years, the international community has been seriously looking into the issue of illegal immigration, especially the social, political, economic, health, and human rights protection problems brought about by smuggling and human trafficking. After martial law was lifted in Taiwan in 1987, November 2nd of that same year saw the government announcing that, keeping in mind the traditional family and moral considerations, it was accepting applications for Taiwan citizens to go to Mainland China. Cross-strait relationships, which have been on opposing ends for a long time, underwent an unprecedented change; people took an interest in Mainland China that was never seen before. Cross-strait interrelationships and various exchanges have long influenced the security and prosperity of the whole Taiwan citizenry.
Stowaway behavior has become a serious challenge to the comprehensiveness of a country’s sovereignty as well as entry acceptance and denial (immigration system), national jurisdiction (border checking and control), and internal order (crime prevention and social control and management). Illegal immigration, especially the direct, indirect, and extended problems of human trafficking, is a major concern of the international community; more thought should be given to what can be done to solve these problems. Because Taiwan is surrounded by seas and oceans, the long coastline and the frequent maritime activities make possible the smuggling and trading of weapons, drugs, and human beings by illegal elements, adversely affecting peace and order as well as national security.
From the time martial law was lifted, based on statistical data from various law enforcement agencies regarding illegal entry by Mainland Chinese citizens into Taiwan, the number of illegal entries has reached its peak. The number of illegal entries from Mainland China was the highest in 1993 with 5,633 people and 1990 with 5,626 people. With the number of illegal immigrants decreasing, the question that arises is what is the real, unaccounted number of stowaways coming into Taiwan? There is also the fact that the number of Mainland Chinese citizens entering Taiwan legally has been increasing annually.
From the time Taiwan and Mainland China opened their doors to social exchanges to September of 2008, intermarriages between Taiwan and Mainland Chinese citizens have numbered a total of 295,665 people, out of which 259,404 have already officially registered. For citizens who have entered the country legally but have undertaken activities or work not in keeping with the purpose for their entry, the National Police Agency of the Ministry of Interior have stepped up on clamping down various types of illegal activities, including prostitution; there is definitely a cause and effect relationship between this information and the number of people entering the country illegally. As for the unidentified number of stowaways, a relevant research was undertaken by academics in this country, which was participated in by police agencies, the coast guard, the Bureau of Investigation of the Ministry of Justice, private immigration companies, media reporters, and brokers. The result revealed several versions of the estimated percentages because, although they were based on the actual figures obtained, the calculating method and ratio each participating party used was different; hence, the numbers from different parties are different. As of the present, it has not been possible for smuggling to be completely eradicated; incidents of stowing away still occur. In 2008, for example, arrest cases have gone down significantly. This has led to the making use of legal means of entering the country (including family visits, visits to sick family members, attending funerals, reuniting with family, travel, fishing labor, fraudulent marriages, etc.) and then proceeding to indulge in activities and work not in keeping with the purpose of their entry into Taiwan, which bring about many social problems. It is hoped that the study can find where the problem lies and explore possible ways of solving it.
Countermeasures can be implemented with help from the broadcast media disseminating information as well as reinforcing the message in social education, promoting a sense of unity and consensus among the citizenry. Aside from reducing the demands of the prostitution and labor markets, assistance can also be increased in areas such as preventing, informing on, and arresting human smuggling and trafficking criminals. The government can enhance training for law enforcement personnel in the areas of law, investigation, interrogation, identification, and other professional tasks to improve the efficiency with which these personnel handle human smuggling and trafficking. Taking into consideration the protection of basic human rights as well as the safeguarding of national interests, government should review the relevant legal system, amending and drafting necessary laws and regulations to provide a much more effective basis for legal implementation. Through international cooperation, it should establish international relationships wherein intelligence and resources are shared and exchanged, professional training and assistance are provided, participate in joint efforts by the international community, and use NGOs, non-profit organizations, and other private agencies. Aside from battling human stowaway and trafficking, government should provide humane handling as well as protection and assistance to the victims of these crimes. Using its policy tools, aid should be provided to the countries or societies which are sources of human stowaways and trafficking, reinforcing the work of “solving the problem at its roots” and reducing or eliminating the structural or basic factors contributing to them. Furthermore, government should also improve its information gathering capabilities, research and analysis, and staying on top and responding to the developments and changes of criminal trends, coming up with appropriate solutions by integrating manpower and resources within the government, and establishing special agencies responsible for gathering and studying information as well as investigating and identifying criminal dealings connected to human trafficking.
The study looks at the countermeasures and experiences various nations have for the prevention of illegal immigration, the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the arrival of Mainland Chinese citizens in Taiwan, and the effects of illegal entry by Mainland Chinese citizens into Taiwan; our country’s current legal, organizational, and implementation aspects, as well as how to reinforce preventive measures to eliminate illegal stowaways. This way, we will be able to maintain social stability and national security as well as stop people who have entered the country legally from disappearing or undertaking activities and works not consistent with the purpose of their stay in Taiwan, which may cause disorder in cross-strait exchanges.