1st December 2023 – (Hong Kong) In a coordinated effort between the Immigration Department (ImmD), the Hong Kong Police Force, and Guangdong Provincial authorities, a joint operation codenamed “Mungoshunt-3 (2nd stage)” was carried out over two consecutive days on 28th and 29th November to combat non-ethnic Chinese illegal immigrants. The second stage of the operation led to the arrest of a total of 78 individuals in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province.
Officers from the ImmD and the Hong Kong Police Force conducted an extensive territory-wide operation to target suspected hideouts of illegal immigrants. Additionally, the ImmD launched a series of territory-wide operations to crack down on non-ethnic Chinese illegal workers. To address the issue of illegal immigrants entering Hong Kong by sea, the Marine Police collaborated with Mainland authorities to enhance maritime patrol and interception of suspicious vessels.
During the operation, the ImmD and the Hong Kong Police Force conducted surprise raids at over 60 locations and intercepted 29 vessels, resulting in the apprehension of 452 individuals. One vessel was seized, and 52 persons were arrested. Among the arrested were 15 male and six female illegal immigrants, including two Mainlanders, four Bangladeshis, two Pakistanis, and seven Vietnamese men aged 20 to 56. Additionally, one Mainlander and five Vietnamese women aged 25 to 36 were apprehended. Two Mainlander men aged 31 and 32 were arrested for aiding and abetting others to unlawfully enter and remain in Hong Kong. In the anti-illegal worker operation, six Mainlanders and 18 non-ethnic Chinese individuals were arrested for various violations, including breach of recognizance conditions, unauthorized employment, and overstaying in Hong Kong. The group of arrested Mainlanders consisted of four men and two women aged 30 to 57, while the 18 non-ethnic Chinese individuals included seven men and 11 women aged 23 to 47. Notably, eight of the arrested non-ethnic Chinese individuals held recognizance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from engaging in employment. Seven suspected employers, comprising four men and three women aged 41 to 66, were also arrested during the operation.
Authorities in Guangdong Province reported that since November 25, they have arrested 26 individuals, including 10 arrangers and 16 non-ethnic Chinese individuals, who were planning to enter Hong Kong illegally. The number of such arrests has significantly decreased.
An ImmD spokesman highlighted the serious nature of offences related to arranging passage for unauthorized entrants and assisting unauthorised entrants to remain in Hong Kong, as stipulated in the Immigration Ordinance. Offenders face substantial penalties, including fines of up to $5,000,000 and imprisonment for up to 14 years for arranging passage, and fines of up to $500,000 and imprisonment for up to 10 years for assisting unauthorized entrants. The ImmD expressed its commitment to working closely with the Hong Kong Police Force and other relevant departments to intensify enforcement actions and conduct joint operations against illegal immigration activities.
The spokesman emphasized that contravening conditions of stay and engaging in unauthorized employment are serious offences. Visitors are strictly prohibited from taking employment in Hong Kong without the permission of the Director of Immigration, and offenders can face fines of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to two years upon conviction. Aiders and abettors are also subject to prosecution and penalties.
The spokesman further warned that certain individuals, such as illegal immigrants, persons subject to removal or deportation orders, overstayers, and those refused permission to land, are prohibited from taking any employment or establishing/joining any business in Hong Kong under section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance. Offenders can face fines of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to three years upon conviction. Possessing or using a forged Hong Kong identity card is also a punishable offence, with potential penalties of a maximum fine of $100,000 and up to 10 years’ imprisonment upon conviction.
Regarding employers, the spokesman stressed that it is a serious offence to employ individuals who are not lawfully employable. The Immigration Ordinance has increased the maximum penalty for such offences to a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for 10 years to reflect the gravity of the violation. Company directors, managers, secretaries, partners, and others responsible within the organization may also face criminal liability. The High Court has established sentencing guidelines that call for immediate custodial sentences for employers of illegal workers.