Concerns about migrant hatred

Concerns about migrant hatred

Park Jeong-hyeong, Korea Migrant Human Rights Center

Recently, media reports on ‘crimes against migrants’ have been increasing. In addition to reporting, the government is also announcing countermeasures against migrant crimes. It seems to have started with two murders in Suwon at the end of last year. The perpetrator was a migrant from China and was an undocumented resident (‘illegal resident’).

Crime prevention and enforcement is a matter of course. However, the media and government’s awareness and response to ‘crimes against migrants’ are moving in an illogical and dangerous direction. This can be seen in the press release released by the government on the 5th of last month as the result of the National Policy Coordination Meeting presided over by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The title of the press release was ‘Government expands crackdown on illegal immigrants to prevent foreign crimes!’ As the title suggests, the government’s perception is that ‘illegal immigrants cause crime’. This logic leads to the conclusion that ‘reducing illegal immigrants will reduce foreign crime’. Is this really the correct scheme?

No evidence can be found, not even in government press releases, that ‘illegal immigrants’ cause more crime than ‘legal immigrants’. The increase in crime by migrants is a phenomenon that follows the increase in migrants. Also, it is easy to find statistical data that the crime rate by migrants is much lower than that by Koreans. It is not logical to solve the increase in violent crimes by migrants by expanding the crackdown on ‘illegal residents’.

Why did the government come up with a scheme that can show that it is illogical if you think a little bit about it as a solution? Intentionally or unintentionally, the government’s responsibility is on the migrants. Migrant human rights groups have pointed out countless times that undocumented migrants are being mass produced due to government policies that do not guarantee the basic safety and human rights of migrants.

If ‘illegal immigrants’ increase violent crime as the government recognizes, the most fundamental solution is to fix the anti-human rights system that produces ‘illegal immigrants’. If you do that, you can prevent a situation in which you cannot solve your injustice within the system and have no choice but to run away from your workplace and home and become a potential ‘illegal resident’. Nevertheless, the government’s announcement is filled with monitoring and punishment, such as strengthening visa issuance, immigration screening, and crackdown on ‘illegal residents’.

The concrete measures proposed by the government are even more worrisome. Its contents are to designate and manage areas densely populated by foreigners, and to distribute leaflets on ‘Prevention of Illegal Employment and Reporting of Illegal Residents’ to employers and local residents. Suwon City had already announced that it would search for ‘illegal residents’ by conducting a full investigation of immigrants after two murders. Let’s think about it. Is it the ‘healthy multicultural society’ that the government is constantly talking about in a society in which a neighbor living next door, or a colleague I work with, suspects that they are ‘illegal aliens’, is afraid of committing a crime, and reports to arrest them?

In the end, the awareness and reporting behavior of the government and media focused on ‘crime of illegal immigrants’ is increasing the phobia of migrants. It is not easy for migrants to voice their voices in our society. In particular, ‘illegal residents’ are becoming ‘people who do not have the right to speak’. No one cares why they became undocumented residents. Since they cannot speak, they are too easily turned into the source of crime. In this structure, migrants cannot become equal neighbors.

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