TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An unaccounted for migrant worker was arrested at a vaccination station on Tuesday (Dec. 7), despite promises by the government that it would not arrest foreign workers who were facing legal problems.
On Monday (Dec. 6), Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) pledged that unaccounted for migrant workers and those who had overstayed their visa would not be arrested if they came to a vaccination station for a COVID shot. When asked by a reporter that day whether undocumented foreign workers or other foreigners who had overstayed their visas would be eligible, Chen promised that they would not be arrested when they show up for shots, “We can fully guarantee that," reported CNA.
However, the next day (Dec. 7), a female unaccounted for migrant worker was arrested when she went to a healthcare center for a COVID vaccination in Hsinchu County. During a meeting of the Legislative Yuan on Wednesday (Dec. 8), several legislators inquired about the incident and expressed their concern that there would be repeat occurrences of such arrests at vaccination stations.
Unaccounted for migrant worker (center) in medical facility. (Hsinchu County Police Bureau photo)
Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) replied by stating that the arrest on Tuesday was an isolated incident and there would not be any other such arrests. Hsu stressed that it is the government's hope that unaccounted for migrant workers will come to health clinics to receive the COVID vaccine.
Hsu said that the government's policy is "No fees, no reports, and no investigations." She vowed that in the future, when migrant workers arrive at vaccination centers, they will not be questioned or investigated about their legal status.
Tai Chung-hsien (戴崇贒), head of the National Police Agency, was cited by CNA as saying that local police on Tuesday received a report from the public of a dispute. When they arrived at the scene, they found that the woman did not have a National Health Insurance card and her residence permit was expired. After police ran a check on her identity, they realized that she was a 51-year-old Philippine national and an unaccounted for worker, which prompted them to arrest the woman and take her in for questioning, reported PTS News.
Unaccounted for migrant worker being placed in squad car. (Hsinchu County Police Bureau photo)
Later, when the National Immigration Agency confirmed the migrant worker's status, she was released from police custody. "This was one case," said Tai, who added that local police have been informed of the policy and promised that there would not be a second case.
Chang Wen-hsiu (張文秀), a group leader from the NIA, said that as of Tuesday, more than 1,600 unaccounted for foreigners had received vaccines. Chang said that if a migrant worker is vaccinated in a medical institution, authorities will not investigate them and that subsequent shots will be administered based on their shot records.
Chang said that if a migrant worker is found to have violated the law at another place or time than the vaccination site, they will still be investigated and dealt with in accordance with the law. "They will not be investigated when in medical institutions or surrounding areas," reiterated Chang.