Home Business 22 persons arrested during anti-illegal worker operations

22 persons arrested during anti-illegal worker operations

22 persons arrested during anti-illegal worker operations

HONG KONG — In a series of targeted operations, the Hong Kong Immigration Department (ImmD) has made significant strides in combatting illegal workers in the city. The operations, codenamed “Contribute,” “Lightshadow,” and “Twilight,” spanned four consecutive days from February 26 to February 29, resulting in the arrest of 15 suspected illegal workers, four suspected employers, one suspected aider and abettor, and two overstayers.

During the operations, ImmD Task Force officers carried out raids on 45 locations, including a dance studio, industrial buildings, premises under renovation, restaurants, and retail shops. The arrests included eight men and seven women, aged 18 to 55, suspected of being illegal workers. Among them, three women were found in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. Additionally, two men and two women, aged 29 to 52, suspected of employing the illegal workers, were apprehended. One man, aged 34, was arrested for aiding and abetting a person who breached the conditions of stay in Hong Kong.

In a joint operation with the Hong Kong Police Force, codenamed “Champion,” enforcement officers raided 25 target locations in the Wan Chai district. This operation resulted in the apprehension of two overstayers, both women aged 40.

An ImmD spokesman highlighted the seriousness of the offenses, stating, “Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him or her shall be guilty of an offense. Also, visitors are not allowed to take employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration.” Offenders face prosecution and can receive a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years’ imprisonment. Aiders and abettors are also subject to prosecution and penalties.

The spokesman further warned that under section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, individuals such as illegal immigrants, persons subject to removal or deportation orders, overstayers, or those who were refused permission to land, are prohibited from taking any employment or establishing or joining any business. Offenders face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to three years’ imprisonment. The use or possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards or identity cards related to another person is also an offense, punishable by a maximum fine of $100,000 and up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Emphasizing the gravity of employing individuals who are not lawfully employable, the ImmD spokesman stated that penalties for employers have been significantly increased. The maximum penalty for employing illegal workers, such as illegal immigrants, persons subject to removal or deportation orders, overstayers, or those denied permission to land, now includes a fine of $500,000 and up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The director, manager, secretary, partner, or other responsible parties within the company may also face criminal liability. The High Court has established sentencing guidelines recommending immediate custodial sentences for employers of illegal workers.

According to court sentencing, employers have a duty to take practical steps to verify the lawful employability of prospective employees. This includes inspecting identity cards and making inquiries to ensure the absence of reasonable doubt regarding a person’s lawful employability. Failure to do so is not accepted as a defense. It is also an offense for an employer to fail to inspect a job seeker’s valid travel document if the job seeker does not possess a Hong Kong permanent identity card. Convicted offenders face a maximum fine of $150,000 and up to one year of imprisonment.

The ImmD spokesman issued a reminder to all employers to abide by the law and refrain from employing illegal workers. The department vows to continue its resolute enforcement actions against such offenses.

In addition to their enforcement efforts, the ImmD has implemented a mechanism to identify and support vulnerable individuals, including victims of trafficking in persons (TIP). During operations, individuals arrested are screened to ascertain if they are TIP victims. Those identified as victims receive various forms of support and assistance, including urgent intervention, medical services, counseling, shelter or temporary accommodation, and other supportive services. The ImmD encourages TIP victims to report crimes to the relevant departments promptly.

The recent operations conducted by the Hong Kong Immigration Department demonstrate the government’s commitment to cracking down on illegal workers and ensuring compliance with immigration regulations. The enforcement actions serve as a reminder to employers and individuals alike to adhere to the law and contribute to a legal and secure society.