The United Arab Emirates has passed a new three month amnesty period for illegal aliens. The purpose of this action is mainly to aid illegal workers who have been mistreated by their employers. Many of the illegal immigrants were actually workers who had come over with legal paperwork but had run away from their initial employers because of abusive working conditions. Therefore, the workers are forced to flee for their safety from their legal sponsors. Since poor fleeing workers do not have the resources to the return to their homeland and have not fulfilled their contractual obligations to their employers, the workers are forced to remain in the country to avoid paying penalties for breach of contract. The workers are stuck in a foreign country negotiating with a new employer with very limited bargaining power, because they are poor illegal immigrants.
The program has been successful as 278,715 illegal workers have taken advantage of the amnesty, according to the Khaleej Times. The amnesty drive will really help the United Arab Emirates better regulate the abuse of migrant workers. The nation has been known for allowing employers and sponsors to mistreat immigrant workers without repercussions. The amnesty will allow the government to collect data regarding those who have been mistreated by their employers. The information will show whether certain Emeriti recruiting firms were most responsible for abusing workers. Also, it will create a presumption that those workers who remain in the country do so out of their own choice. This presumption will allow the government to adhere to the law, by enforcing contracts that the workers signed and severely punishing companies that violate the workers’ rights.
Daiji World- Extra Time: A Golden Opportunity- 3 September 2007
AFP- Nearly 279,000 illegal workers benefit from UAE amnesty- 2 September 2007
Gulf News- 21 firms found employing illegal workers- 5 September 2007
Khaleej Times Online- Amnesty causes shortage of housemaids in the UAE- 9 September 2007
Hindustan Times- Cheated Gulf workers get ‘amnesty’- 24 August 2007