Immigration Department arrests 14 suspected illegal workers in territory-wide operations

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23rd February 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Immigration Department (ImmD) recently conducted a series of extensive operations targeting illegal workers across Hong Kong. The operations, codenamed “Twilight,” as well as joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force named “Champion” and “Windsand,” were carried out continuously from 19th to 22nd February. As a result, 12 suspected illegal workers and two suspected employers were apprehended.

During the operations, officers from the ImmD Task Force conducted raids at 15 different locations, including bars, guest houses, premises under renovation, restaurants, and retail shops. Nine suspected illegal workers and two suspected employers were arrested during these raids. The group of arrested workers consisted of nine women, aged between 28 and 54. Notably, seven of them were holders of recognisance forms, which specifically prohibit them from engaging in any form of employment. Additionally, one woman was suspected of using and possessing a forged Hong Kong identity card.

In parallel with the “Twilight” operation, the enforcement officers carried out “Champion” in the Western district, raiding 40 targeted locations. As a result, three suspected illegal workers, all men aged between 26 and 55, were apprehended.

An ImmD spokesperson emphasized the seriousness of contravening the conditions of stay and highlighted the legal consequences. “Any individual who violates the conditions of their stay is committing an offense,” the spokesperson stated. Visiting individuals are strictly prohibited from engaging in any form of employment, whether paid or unpaid, without prior permission from the Director of Immigration. Such offenders may face prosecution, with penalties including a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for up to two years. Aiders and abettors are also subject to prosecution and corresponding penalties.

The spokesperson further warned about the legal ramifications for specific categories of individuals. According to section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, illegal immigrants, those subject to removal or deportation orders, overstayers, or individuals denied permission to land are strictly prohibited from engaging in any form of employment or establishing/joining a business. Violators of this provision may face a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for up to three years. Additionally, it is considered an offence to possess or use a forged Hong Kong identity card or one that belongs to another person. Such offences carry a maximum penalty of $100,000 in fines and up to 10 years’ imprisonment, as stipulated by the existing laws.