Editor's Comment

Zambia no haven for illegal immigrants

STEPHEN Kampyongo - Minister of Home Affairs.

ONE may wonder just how those who illegally live in a foreign country manage to have a clear conscience when there are channels that must be followed to legalise their stay.

People should learn to always do the right thing to avoid being in conflict with the law.
The Immigration Department, in conjunction with law enforcement agencies such as the Zambia Police Service, has in the past conducted searches in residential areas and deported all persons found to be living illegally in the country.
An illegal immigrant is generally defined as a person who trespasses across a nation’s borders in a way that violates immigration laws of a particular country. A major motivation that stands out, among many, in contributing towards illegal immigration is the hope for greater economic opportunities and improved quality of life.
Some cross through prohibited borders. Others enter the country legally, but violate the terms and conditions of their visa and passport. When one overstays in the destination country, crossing the legally allowed time frame, it equally amounts to illegal immigration.
The problem of illegal immigrants in Zambia seems to be persistent as people from different nations want to grab every opportunity to better their lives. They can work as barbers or hairdressers and can be on the streets selling different types of goods. Others are even able to get well-paying jobs in well-established organisations.
Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo on Tuesday specifically ordered illegal immigrants trading on the streets of Lusaka to leave the country. However, we feel even those in other parts of the country and various sectors of the economy, other than foreigners who are market traders without legal status, should do likewise. When they put their ‘houses in order’, then they can come back and peacefully continue enjoying life in Zambia.
In most cases, as they are trying to improve their lives, foreigners who stay illegally in a particular place are the ones who start engaging in illegal activities. For instance, the result is an increased crime rate as well as increased cases related to human trafficking, among others.
There is need, therefore, for the Immigration Department and all other stakeholders to intensify campaigns aimed at sensitising members of the public to the dangers that illegal immigrants pose to communities and the country. Through citizens who can freely report any suspected illegal immigrant to police or Immigration officials, it will be easy for the authorities to track down those who go against the laws of the land.
There must be not only a way of keeping records in terms of how many days anyone from outside the country should stay, but where they can be found once they violate the legal provisions that allowed them to enter the country in the first place. Random checks by Immigration officials and police in markets, companies and other places are necessary in being sure as to who is a legal immigrant and who is not.
As we deal with the issue of illegal immigrants here, it is important to remind our fellow citizens who travel to different countries for various reasons, including business ventures and employment opportunities, to always abide by those respective countries’ statutes. When they do this, it means they are promoting the good image of the country to the outside world.
Once illegal immigrants who are genuinely contributing to economic growth attain legal status, the country will benefit even more. They will be paying taxes to Zambia Revenue Authority through businesses they run or the work they do in various firms where they are engaged.

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