“This week’s X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner crackdown has netted what is believed to be one of the longest cases of a foreigner overstaying in Thailand,” ThaiVisa reports. “Among those arrested was German national Eugen Karl Mullerschon, 60, who was caught in Trang where he was found to have overstayed for a whopping 7,059 days, almost 19 years and four months.”
Poor old Eugene must be pissed! Only another 8 months and he would have been eligible for a gold watch.
Here’s an idea: declare a blanket amnesty for all overstayers, get to know who they are, fine them accordingly and renew their visa if they are good people and not wanted criminals or fugitives of some sort. That way Thai authorities will show that they’re reasonable and forgiving and by doing that they may have the chance to clear the books and start afresh.
Why would “wanted criminals or fugitives of some sort” apply for an amnesty?
Australia had three amnesties many years ago. It didn’t solve, only exacerbated, the problem of overstayers. People were overstaying while waiting for the next one.
The study “Amnesty For Illegal Aliens: The Australian Experience”, by Colbert Rhodes (Review of Policy Research, 1986) has this to say:
“[T]he three amnesties granted by Australia did not remove the presence of illegal aliens nor end the movement of persons into Australia who would become illegal residents. Instead, amnesty encouraged the growth of an illegal alien population. Some persons who were unable to get an immigrant visa decided to come to Australia and remain as an illegal alien living anonymously within an ethnic community. Illegal aliens expected that pressures from their ethnic communities would compel the government to grant another amnesty. … Amnesty turns out not to be a long-term solution to the existence of an illegal alien problem.”
The current immigration rules leave overstayers with little option. Previously you could leave and pay Bt20,000 and clear you record. Now, people can’t do that. And before someone speaks up about all overstayers being in the wrong, there are many who have legal issues with the court who end up overstaying a couple of years, and get found not guilty at the end. They then need a court order or they are in the same boat. Offering a short amnesty window would probably see a large number of people trying to put themselves into a legal situation once more. I am pretty sure there are many, many more out there with stays like this and probably longer too.