With regard to the news about 5,000 Indians illegally staying in the Philippines, I don’t know if the BI agents have problems with their eyes that they cannot spot where these Indians are..

Unlike other countries, our immigration is not strict in imposing our immigration laws. That is why there are thousands of TNTs in our country, some of whom, have married to our citizens or have established business without any permit.

Due to our government’s emphasis on tourism, other nationalities have turned the TNT tide on us when it comes to the issue of illegal stay.

Why only Indians? What about the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Sri Lankans and Lebanese? Can the BI provide figures just how many of these nationalities are also unaccounted for?

I remember one time I met a Vietnamese selling soap and perfumes (ala Bombay). The guy could hardly speak English and is obviously an illegal. So how do we report this kind of aliens?

Our problem is that immigration enforcement is centralized. Only BI and its agents has the right to check a foreigner’s paper. And BI offices/agents are not present in all provinces — but foreigners are.

If an alien has become a TNT but did not commit a crime, he can go on with his illegal stay without being checked. Because our local PNPs in LGUs are not trained to handle expatriate status.

So in the case when an alien applies for business permit and presents Immigration papers, there is no coordination/validation from BI to establish authenticity of documents. And neither it is the business of DTI or LGU to check the validity of the permits. Thus, even if the permit has expired, the alien continues to do business and extend his stay, unless the alien has committed a crime to attract police.

Maybe BI should establish a public nationwide hotline for people to call anonymously to report any suspected illegal alien/s in their locality. BI should also conduct information campaign about the hotline and about immigration laws.

BI should also coordinated with LGUs and the PNP, so that local law enforcement personnel and officials would know how to handle basic immigration case, particularly doing business, and updating of alien immigration status, and how to detect and process illegal aliens.

This way, all foreigners, other than tourists, will be properly accounted for, and this will give notice to all foreign visitors to think twice before doing anything illegal in our country.

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