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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03ABUDHABI47 2003-01-07 06:25:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Abu Dhabi
Cable title:  

UAEG ANNOUNCES AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL

Tags:   PHUM ELAB PINS TC 
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Diana T Fritz  06/05/2007 04:24:03 PM  From  DB/Inbox:  Search Results

Cable 
Text:                                                                      
                                                                           
      
UNCLASSIFIED

SIPDIS
TELEGRAM                                         January 07, 2003


To:       No Action Addressee                                    

Action:   Unknown                                                

From:     AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI (ABU DHABI 47 - PRIORITY)          

TAGS:     PHUM, ELAB, PINS                                       

Captions: None                                                   

Subject:  UAEG ANNOUNCES AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL WORKERS             

Ref:      None                                                   
_________________________________________________________________
UNCLAS        ABU DHABI 00047

SIPDIS
CXABU:
    ACTION: POL 
    INFO:   RSO AMB DCM P/M ECON 

DISSEMINATION: POL
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: AMB:MMWAHBA
DRAFTED: P/E:MMMENARD
CLEARED: A/DCM:TEWILLIAMS; POL:STWILLIAMS; ECON:CMCRUMPLER

VZCZCADI391
PP RUEHC RUEHZM RUEHNE RUEHIL RUEHKA RUEHLM
RUEHML
DE RUEHAD #0047/01 0070625
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070625Z JAN 03
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7735
INFO RUEHZM/GCC COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0986
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1147
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0148
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0080
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 0428
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABU DHABI 000047 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM ELAB PINS TC
SUBJECT: UAEG ANNOUNCES AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL
WORKERS

REF: ABU DHABI 3370



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On 24 December, the UAEG
announced a four month amnesty period for illegal
workers to leave the UAE between 1 January 2003
and 30 April 2003. Deportees will be exempt from
the payment of fines or other legal liabilities
associated with residency and immigration
violations. Press reports estimate that
approximately 300,000-350,000 illegals will take
advantage of this general amnesty and leave the
UAE. Designed to stabilize the local labor
market and alleviate the growing demographic
imbalance, the UAEG has launched a massive media
and public awareness campaign to maximize the
number of illegals seeking amnesty and eradicate
thoughts that general amnesties will be a regular
feature. The proof of the UAEG's commitment to
reduce the number of illegals, however, will be
in how it deals with and whether it will clamp
down on the Emirati visa trade -- a significant
source of income, especially for poorer UAE
citizens. Furthermore, it is doubtful that the
amnesty program will have any impact on the
demographic imbalance in the UAE; we suspect that
many amnesty-seekers will regularize their status
in their home countries and return to the
lucrative UAE market if possible. END SUMMARY.

FOUR MONTH GENERAL AMNESTY ANNOUNCED


--------------------------





2. (U) On 24 December, the UAEG announced a four
month amnesty for illegal workers to leave the
UAE between 1 January 2003 and 30 April 2003. The
amnesty is a general pardon that exempts
violators of the UAE's immigration and residency
laws from the payment of fines or other legal
liabilities associated with such violations. The
UAEG has announced that most violators will be
banned from entering the UAE for a one-year
period and that companies that sponsor
overstayers will also be blacklisted.



3. (U) This is the second time that the UAEG has
declared a general amnesty period. The first
amnesty in 1996 resulted in about 250,000 illegal
aliens leaving the country. (See reftel.) This
second amnesty was announced only after months of
deliberations on methods to avoid the loopholes
in the 1996 amnesty by an inter-ministry
committee. The committee is chaired by Interior
Undersecretary for Security Affairs Major General
Saif Abdullah Al Sha'afar, and comprised of
representatives from the Ministry of Interior;
Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Awqaf;
and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.



4. (U) The comprehensive implementation plan
includes a media and public awareness campaign in
multiple languages, increased inspections by the
Labor Ministry, coordination between the Interior
Ministry and Embassies and Consulates, and a
stream-lined exit system that will include the
creation of computerized databases for
information on those leaving the country. UAEG
officials have also appealed to the public to
assist in ensuring the departure of illegal
aliens.

CLEANING HOUSE: AMNESTY DESIGNED TO OPERATE
AS A WORKFORCE AND DEMOGRAPHIC STABILIZER


--------------------------





5. (U) Undersecretary for Labor Affairs Dr.
Khalid Al-Khazraji has expressed that the primary
reason of the amnesty is to regulate and
stabilize the local market by cleansing the local
labor market of marginal and ineffective
manpower.



6. (U) Press reports estimate that about
300,000-350,000 illegal aliens will take
advantage of this amnesty period and leave the
country. Since most of the illegals departing
the country are expected to be Asian, the UAEG
perceives that the amnesty will serve to help
correct its demographic imbalance -- an issue
considered by many to be a security as well as a
social issue in a country with a population of
about 4 million, of which about 600,000 are
citizens.



7. (U) The media has reported the following
informal estimates of amnesty seekers by country:

--India 35,000-40,000
--Pakistan 20,000-30,000
--Bangladesh 10,000
--Sri Lanka 8,000-10,000
--Phillipines 5,000-10,000
--Indonesia 600



8. (U) It is anticipated that many amnesty
seekers will try to depart the UAE at the end of
the amnesty period to earn more money prior to
leaving or have more time to possibly legalize
their status before departure. Most amnesty
seekers are expected to be visit visa overstays
or workers who have been unable to renew their
work permits because they have absconded from
their employer and/or sponsor. Sponsors and
employers who are subject to fines for failing to
report run-away workers or not renewing their
employees' labor cards will also be exempt from
the payment of such fines.



9. (U) Those departing and their sponsors are
responsible for paying for their transportation
out of the country. To maximize the number of
deportees, embassies and consulates have been
working with their national airlines to award
reduced airfare to amnesty seekers and have set
aside funds to purchase air tickets for those who
are destitute. The Labor Ministry also declared
that local governments have allocated funds to
cover the expenses of deporting violators during
the amnesty, particularly those not reported as
absconding from their sponsors, those who do not
have sponsors to pay for their deportation, and
those unable to pay for their own tickets.

LIBERAL AMNESTY TO BE FOLLOWED BY CRACK-DOWN
AND FULL PUNISHMENT OF VIOLATORS


--------------------------





10. (U) With the apparent purpose to eradicate
the notion that amnesties will be a regular
occurrence, the Interior Ministry and Labor
Ministry have both emphasized that, after the
amnesty period expires, labor and residency laws
will be enforced strictly, with violators
punished to the full extent of the law. The
Labor Ministry has announced that it will
increase inspections during the amnesty period
and will intensify such inspections after the
amnesty period expires to crackdown on those
illegals remaining in the country.



11. (SBU) COMMENT: The UAEG has done an
excellent job thus far to market the amnesty and
encourage illegals to take advantage of this
opportunity. Of course, this house cleaning will
only be successful if followed by strict
enforcement of labor and immigration laws, as
promised by the Labor and Interior Ministries.
The Labor Ministry should be up to the task since
it has been increasing the number of its
inspectors and inspections over the past year.
The proof of the UAEG's commitment to reduce the
number of illegals, however, will be in how it
deals with and whether it will clamp down on the
Emirati visa trade -- a significant source of
income, especially for poorer UAE citizens.
Furthermore, it is doubtful that the amnesty
program will have any impact on the demographic
imbalance in the UAE; we suspect that many
amnesty-seekers will regularize their status in
their home countries and return to the lucrative
UAE market if possible. We will report on the
success or failure of the amnesty and its
implementation as things progress. END COMMENT.

WAHBA