Evaluation and Problems of the Framework Act On the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea

Evaluation and Problems of the Framework Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea


Refers to the system for foreigners residing in Korea
Part 1 Evaluation and Problems of the Framework Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea

Ki-don Kim (Head of Counseling Team, Center for Migrant Workers’ Human Rights in Korea)

The Framework Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea (hereinafter referred to as the Basic Act) was enacted on May 17, 2007 and came into full force on July 18, 2007.
The Ministry of Justice, which proposed the Basic Law, promotes appropriate treatment for foreigners residing in Korea and diversification of their sojourn types as the background of the enactment of the law. This is to solve the problem of adaptation to Korean society and to improve the implementation system from a comprehensive and macro perspective in order to improve the policy conflicts, overlaps, and absences caused by individual and fragmentary foreign policy among ministries. The main contents of the bill are: ○ The Ministry of Justice establishes a basic plan for foreign policy every five years, and central administrative agencies and local governments are required to establish and implement an annual implementation plan based on the basic plan. ○ Basic plan and performance results, etc. A ‘Foreigner Policy Committee’, chaired by the Prime Minister, should be formed to deliberate and adjust important matters regarding foreign policy. ○ Education for foreign residents living in Korea, such as marriage immigrants and their children, permanent residents, and those who have been recognized as refugees. and to prevent unreasonable discrimination against them and protect human rights, the government stipulates that education and publicity and other necessary efforts are made. ○ In order to create an environment in which the people and foreigners residing in Korea can harmonize, May 20 is celebrated every year as a ‘World Citizen’s Day’. Day’ and a week including May 20 is designated as ‘World People’s Week’.
To give a general evaluation of the Basic Law enacted with these contents, it is possible to maintain the consistency of government policies and to think about foreign policy in a comprehensive way by establishing and executing policies at a comprehensive and macro level for foreign policies that have been carried out individually by each ministry. It can be evaluated positively if the opportunity is prepared. It can be said that this is a necessary measure to improve confusion in the policy process, such as disproportionately involved in foreign policy among ministries, pouring out bills with overlapping content, resulting in unbalanced budget support and inconsistent policy progress.
In addition, the central government and local governments provided the basis for support for foreign residents living in Korea and established an implementation plan for each year. It can be positively evaluated that the central and local governments made continuous interest and support for foreign policy in the process of administrative execution.
Then, let’s look at the changes in the policy for foreigners residing in Korea that emerged during the implementation of the Basic Law and examine whether these positive evaluations can be maintained.
First, due to the operation of the Basic Law, the overall direction of the policy for foreigners residing in Korea was reorganized with the Ministry of Justice as the center.  
According to the contents of the Basic Law, the Ministry of Justice was designated as the entity that establishes the basic foreign policy plan every five years, so the department in charge of foreign policy in Korea was confirmed as the Ministry of Justice. Accordingly, the Ministry of Justice and, directly, the Immigration Policy Headquarters, play a leading role in foreigner policy in Korea. This means that the Ministry of Justice has temporarily gained the upper hand in the competition among ministries for the initiative in foreign manpower policy. Accordingly, it ‘assimilates’ long-term residents such as marriage immigrants, ‘manages’ labor force, and ‘excludes’ undocumented residents ‘ This suggests that the Ministry of Justice’s foreign policy base will continue to be implemented in the foreigner policy in Korea. In particular, at a time when the unilateral ‘assimilation’ policy for long-term residents such as marriage immigrants and the systematic ‘exclusion’ policy for undocumented immigrants has been arousing social controversies and controversy, the fact that the Basic Law has been consolidated by the operation of the Basic Law raises serious concerns. to give birth
For example, after the Basic Law was enacted, the Ministry of Justice announced the Basic Plan in March 2008 to implement the ‘Social Integration Completion Program’ as part of the assimilation policy for foreigners residing in Korea, including marriage immigrants. As for the contents of the program, standardization of settlement support policies such as Korean education for marriage immigrants and education for understanding Korean society conducted by central ministries, local governments, and private organizations, etc., and a prescribed social integration program designated by the Minister of Justice are scheduled. The naturalization test for acquiring nationality was to be exempted only for those who completed more than one hour, and after that, the completion of the social integration program was made compulsory and linked to the acquisition of nationality.
These plans of the Ministry of Justice do not reflect the reality of marriage immigrants who cannot realistically complete the long-term course when the long-term plan to make the course of about 1 year and 8 months mandatory as a requirement for obtaining nationality is implemented. It has been criticized for making it difficult for foreigners residing in Korea to enter Korean society by raising its own standards, and for forcing foreigners to become Korean citizens unconditionally.
However, despite these criticisms, the Ministry of Justice has been conducting a pilot implementation of the social integration program since January 2009, and the basis for this policy to proceed is probably because it is confident that it is leading the overall direction of the foreigner policy in Korea.    
Second, the government-led policy for foreigners living in Korea is expanding to the level of local governments.
According to the Basic Act, central administrative agencies and local governments are required to establish annual implementation plans in accordance with the Basic Plan for Foreigner Policy to be established every five years. In case of violation of the provisions of this Act, the head of the relevant local government is requested to change it, and the implementation of the implementation plan established by the relevant local government is checked according to the basic plan. Accordingly, the basis of the government’s policy on foreigners residing in Korea will be extended to the level of local governments. This can be said to be a measure to maintain the consistency of policy implementation, but in a situation where the policy of the Ministry of Justice limits the target of the Ministry of Justice to only settlers and is centered on the ‘unilateral assimilation policy’ in Korea’s foreigner policy, local governments It can be said that it may act as an obstacle in establishing realistic support measures at the level.
An example of a realization of these concerns would be the enactment of the ‘Resident Foreigners Support Ordinance’ enacted by each local government. On October 31, 2006, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs made the ‘Standard Draft Ordinance on Support for Resident Foreigners’ in order to provide stable and continuous support for foreign residents. According to the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs’ ‘Standard Draft for Foreign Resident Support Ordinance’, the target foreign residents are limited to foreigners with legal status of residence, and an advisory committee on support policies is established, and the local government provides support for foreign residents eligible for support. The ground for implementing the project is established through the ordinance, and May 20 is designated as ‘World People’s Day’ every year to be commemorated.
In this regard, migrant human rights groups pointed out problems such as excluding undocumented resident from the scope of support and not securing a way for migrants to actively participate in the support policy advisory committee. through the continuous demand. However, even after nearly a year has passed since the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs took the policy, discussions on enactment did not proceed because of the lack of a higher grounding law, except for some local governments in each city/gun/gu that should enact the ‘Resident Foreigners Support Ordinance’. Under such circumstances, when the Basic Act was enacted on July 18, 2007, most local governments defined the scope of ‘resident aliens’ in accordance with the provisions of ‘foreigners residing in Korea’ stipulated in the Basic Act, and provided support without undocumented residents. Ordinance was enacted. In the case of support ordinances, the contents of the standard ordinance could be amended and enacted according to the specificity and reality of each local government. However, most local governments that advocated the Basic Law as a higher law enacted support ordinances in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law.
Finally, government-led multiculturalism without discourse is expanding to the private sector.
Multiculturalism in Korea is also called ‘government-led multiculturalism’. This means that since the term ‘multiculturalism’ was imported into Korea, multiculturalism in Korea has been formed due to multicultural policies led by the government, which means that immigrants exist only as policy objects of multiculturalism, but not as subjects of multiculturalism. contains In this government-led policy flow, private organizations such as migrant support groups and human rights groups, who have worked together in the field of migrants’ lives, have played a role in criticizing the government’s policies and suggesting desirable alternatives. The roles of producing and expanding discourses were mainly played by private organizations, not the government. In addition, it is true that many of the migrant support groups have been operated with partial subsidies from the central government and local governments in order to carry out related projects under realistic conditions in the absence of a culture of donation to civic groups in Korea. However, it appeared that private organizations were carrying out the tasks that should be done at the government level, and that they were demanding and receiving support from the government for the parts that should be supported.
However, as the Basic Act is enacted and its implementation is in full swing, each migrant support organization will be included or excluded from the government’s support target as stipulated in the Basic Act, depending on the project contents.
As a result, organizations will be divided into those that respond to the government-led multicultural policy and those that criticize or reject it, and it is expected that many organizations will be converted into private organizations included in the government’s policies. Of course, in this process, the capabilities of each organization that have been built up in the past may be applied to the government’s policies. However, the expansion of government-led multiculturalism into private organizations is expected to become an unstoppable trend.
In conclusion, while the Basic Act has a basic framework for establishing and operating foreigner policy in Korea, in actual operation, the government-led multiculturalism, especially the conservative foreigner policy centered on the Ministry of Justice, is playing a role in carrying out even at the local level. is evaluated as In other words, the Basic Law is a law centered on the action plan, and it can be said that there is no law that needs to be implemented within it.
For that reason, the key point inevitably comes back to the problem of ‘how to structure the contents of the basic policy for foreigners.’ The government should collect and debate the opinions of migrant parties, migrant human rights groups and experts from all walks of life, and in-depth discussions about the desirable foreign policy.

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