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Kenya spend five million dollars to deport illegal foreign workers

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to spend five million U.S. dollars in 2018 to deport foreigners working in the country illegally, up from the 3.6 million dollars spent last year, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i told a forum in Nairobi that some immigration officials are colluding with foreigners for them to get work permits even when they don’t deserve.

"The ongoing work permit verification exercise will weed out those who are working illegally so that they can be removed from the country," Matiang’i told the forum, organized by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the Ministry of Interior.

The work permit verification exercise began on May 22 and will go on until July 21.

So far 1,972 work permit have been assessed with 13 being identified as fake, he said.

According government records, 34,000 foreigners have been issued with work permits against a suspected number of over 100,000 foreign nationals working in the country.

The government has issued an amnesty for all foreigners who want to "regularize" their papers during the period of the verification, Matiang’i said.

"There will be no penalty or sanctions for those who come forward before the expiry of the 60-day grace period," he said.

As part of the East African Common Market Protocol, citizens of the economic bloc will not be required to pay any fee to get work permits.

The government has formed a multi-agency team to conduct raids after the expiry of the verification exercise in order to identify those working illegally in the country with a view to deporting them, Matiang’i said.

The verification exercise is meant to address the current challenges in the work permit regime where foreigners who don’t meet the criteria have been issued with licenses to work.

"Our overall objective is to correct some of the mistakes we have committed in the past so that we have an orderly country that facilitates economic growth," he said.

He noted that only those with specialized skills or investors will be issued with work permits.

Foreign professionals will be required to develop a work plan to train locals to take over their jobs in two years’ time, Matiang’i said.

The cabinet secretary said that laxity of enforcement has led to an influx of foreigners working in the country illegally.

Gordon Kihalangwa, principal secretary in the Ministry of Interior, said that the government plans to have all Kenyans migrate to the e-passport system by September 2019.

"So far over 750,000 e-passports which have extra security features have been issued," Kihalangwa said.

He said that in order to cope with the rising costs of removing aliens from the country, the government plans to amend the law to ensure that foreigners pay for their cost of deportation.

"We will ensure that the plan will not violate any national or international law and at the same time save taxpayers money so that the government can instead devote money to fund expenditures in critical sectors such as health and education," he added.

Kihalangwa said that in order to attract more investments into the country, immigration authorities will provide preferential treatment to foreign investors in terms of issuance of work permits.

"We want to fast track their applications so that we improve the attractiveness of Kenya as an investment destination," he said.

Kihalangwa said that the government is currently in the process of digitizing all immigration files in order to reduce time taken to process passports and visas.

Carole Kariuki, CEO of KEPSA, said the business community will work together with the government to ensure that only qualified foreigners are issued with work permits.

As Kenya is a developing country, it will still need to rely on foreigners with specialist skills to transfer knowledge to locals, Kariuki said.


Tanzania arrests over 13,000 illegal immigrants in nine months

ARUSHA Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian authorities said on Tuesday that 13,393 undocumented immigrants were arrested in the nine months to March.

Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Hamad Masauni disclosed the figure during a parliamentary session in the country’s capital, Dodoma.

The immigrants were nabbed in an operation that started in July 2017 and lasted through March this year.

Masauni said 2,815 of the undocumented immigrants were sent to court while 117 others were slapped with fines.

"We imprisoned 429 of them while 6,316 were forced to return to their respective countries," he said, responding to a question a lawmaker.

According to Masauni, 1,353 undocumented immigrants were set free after meeting the requirements of being legal residents.

Minister for the Home Affairs Mwigulu Nchemba said east African governments have agreed on working together to curb illegal migrantion.



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