Benjapol Rodsawat, deputy immigration police chief of Sa Kaeo province on the Thai-Cambodian border, said about 10,000 Cambodian Muslims entered the kingdom through the eastern border and travelled to Malaysia via the southern border checkpoint in Su-ngai Kolok, Narathiwat province in the past year.
The migrants told Thai authorities at the southern border checkpoint that they would visit their relatives in Malaysia but they re-entered Thailand shortly after to work in the three Muslim-predominant border provinces without work permits, he said.
Nearly 10,000 Cambodian Muslims are arrested in Narathiwat each year and charged with illegal entry after failing to produce legal documents, he said.
The illegal Cambodian migrants have become a burden for the Thai authorities who have to send them back via the Aranyaprathet immigration checkpoint in Sa Kaeo province, he said.
Pol Lt Col Benjapol said police could not take legal action against the illegal migrants due to an agreement between Thailand and Cambodia.
“Many Cambodian Muslims migrated to work in the South without work permits or legal documents. It’s the responsibility of Thai authorities to send them back to their home country without them having to pay for travel expenses,” he said.
At the checkpoint in Aranyaprathet yesterday, 57 Cambodian Muslims were stopped but later allowed to enter Thailand after producing legal passports with tourist visas.
They told immigration police that they intended to visit their relatives in Malaysia and would travel South to the checkpoint at Su-ngai Kolok.
Aranprayaprathet police sent their records and photos to Su-ngai Kolok checkpoint to keep a close watch on their re-entry, police said.