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Management of Cross-border Migration: Thailand as a Case of Net Immigration

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Abstract The increase of migrant workers into the Kingdom of Thailand began in the mid-1980s and early 1990s when Thailand was in transition from a low-end labour-intensive economy, to a capital-intensive one. The role of migrant workers became even more evident when Thailand encountered the economic crisis of the mid-1990s. Current statistics indicate that Thailand receives more than a million migrant workers from neighbouring countries, including Myanmar, Lao PDR and Cambodia. This paper traces the five stages of the Royal Thai Government’s (RTG) policies to managing cross-border migration and migrant worker issues in Thailand. It argues that despite the introduction of policies of management of the issue, migrant workers are vulnerable to human trafficking. Furthermore, as more often than not migrant workers are irregular migrants, they are treated as a risk to national security. As such they are vulnerable to labour exploitation. This paper analyses the problems in policy and legal enforcement between countries of origin and the RTG, suggesting ways in which these problems can be overcome to ensure compliance with international norms, and thus the responsibility of the RTG to its ‘foreign workers’.

Affiliations: 1: Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI)


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