Lin Li-chan (林麗蟬) is the first new immigrant legislator in Taiwan, and even though she has left office, she continues to follow closely the issues new immigrants face in Taiwan.
During a recent interview with 4-Way Voice, she revealed that though she is in a different position and is no longer a legistlator, she continues to promote issues concerning new immigrants.
In addition to new immigrants, she also places great importance on the rights and interests of migrant workers, children of undocumented migrant workers, and pregnant foreign spouses.
Having previously discovered a passion for community service, Lin later entered into politics, promoting a number of marriage immigration policy changes and thus becoming the mouthpiece of new immigrants.
She was also a municipal advisor for the Kaohsiung City Government, won the 51st Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award, and was the initiator of the Overseas Training Program for the Children of New Immigrants (新住民子女海外培力計畫).
In fact, before entering politics, Lin was also an interpreter at the National Immigration Agency, Changhua County Service Center (移民署彰化縣服務站), and her work mainly involved helping new immigrants resolve any issues or problems they face.
After becoming a legislator, she regularly returned to her hometown every month despite the increase in her workload. Nowadays, she also serves in Changhua most of the time and helps newly arrived immigrants.
In reference to what the government can do better on the new immigrants’ related policy, she emphasized that new immigrant and migrant worker issues encompass many different layers and are topics worth discussing.
“When I was in the Legislative Yuan, I asked the Ministry of Labor (MOL) to compile budgets and have ‘specific directions and implementation measures’ for issues regarding newborns of undocumented migrant workers and recreation centers for them. However, in the end, the MOL only provided possible directions, but did not come up with specific budgets,” Lin said.
She listed an example of when she was calling for the MOL to make a budget for migrant workers to host a soccer match, hoping that the government would pay more attention to their leisure activities.
Lin stressed that they can further strengthen and implement relevant policies, adding that Taiwan should not let migrant workers come to Taiwan only to” work “, but to also have access to multiple channels to relax and have fun.
As for the children of undocumented migrant workers, they are stateless as they are newborns of those who seek work in Taiwan with different nationalities.
As Taiwan law indicates that only the children of a Taiwanese can be “Taiwanese,” even if migrant workers bear their children in Taiwan, the babies cannot acquire Taiwanese nationality.
If they do not return home with their mothers, they will be regarded as “stateless children” stranded in Taiwan.
Stateless children are unable to attend schools, and even if they somehow manage to take classes, they will not be able to get a diploma.
“It’s as if they’re being kicked around like a human soccer ball; the government should pay more attention to this issue,” Lin said.
According to the statistics provided by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI, 內政部), there are around 710,000 Southeast Asian migrant workers in Taiwan, and there are more than 50,000 undocumented migrant workers whose whereabouts are unknown, of which more than half are women.
From 2013 to 2021, the number of stateless babies who have been listed has reached thousands, and experts have even estimated that the actual number is closer to 20,000.
Because of the fear that undocumented migrant workers may have about their whereabouts being exposed leading to them being repatriated, many undocumented migrant workers have fled with their children, taking it one day at a time.
As a result, tragedies often occur making it an urgent human rights issue, in desperate need to be resolved.
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