Over the last few weeks, Thailand immigration authorities have ramped up an operation called “X-Ray Outlaw Foreigners.” This operation has caused more than 1,000 suspected visa violators to be arrested.
While the law was created in 2017, it has recently shifted its focus on black and brown immigrants. Many have begun to raise questions about racial profiling and fears for asylum-seekers caught in the web.
“Our job is to classify who are the good dark-skinned people and who are the ones likely to commit crimes,” said immigration bureau chief Surachate Hakparn.
“The suspicious targets are the dark-skinned people. First, we search their bodies, then we search their passports,” an official stated at a meeting before sending about 75 offices on an evening to round-up more suspects. The officers immediately stopped 3 Mali men who were tested for drugs on the spot. That particular night almost 30 individuals, half of whom were Black, were detained.
Tourists flock to Thailand by the millions for its low cost of living, beautiful beaches, and some for the illegal sex industry. Thailand is also a pass-through stop for many refugees and asylum-seekers headed to a third country. They too are targets of the police crackdown.
“Thailand’s immigration crackdown has swept up refugees and asylum seekers, sent young children into horrid, prison-like conditions, and appears to have clear aspects of racial profiling against South Asians and Africans,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
This crackdown is eerily similar to Trump’s immigration agenda. Earlier this year, the president was reported that he views certain countries across Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America as being “sh*thole countries.” “Why do we need more Haitians, take them out,” Trump said, according to sources. Trump asked why America would want immigrants from “all these shi*hole countries” and that the U.S. should have more people coming in from places like Norway.
Thai authorities are not backing down from their plans. “In order to clean house, we need to bring in the good people and deport the bad people so that the country will have sustained stability,” Hakparn stated.