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What presidential candidates have to say on S. Korea's migrant issues Updated: 2022-01-24 12:25:02 KST

"This is where migrants to South Korea start a new chapter in their lives.
Many of them coming through those gates hoping to achieve the Korean Dream.
That term mirrors the American Dream, held by migrants to the States hoping for a better and fuller life.”

This man had hoped to achieve the Korean Dream by launching his own business.
Instead he has been living as an undocumented immigrant for 22 years after losing his passport.

"I went to the embassy to apply for a new one, but the review process has been delayed to this day. Mostly because I used to be a democracy activist back home."

He says he could be killed if he returns to Myanmar.
So he tried to seek asylum, but was asked to pay a fine of over 25-thousand dollars.

"Of course I would like to pay. But I can't. I earn a little over 2-thousand dollars a month. Half I send back home to Myanmar to my family. I'm asking the Korean government to allow me to pay bit by bit, monthly."

There are some 400-thousand undocumented migrants living in Korea, making up roughly 20 percent of the foreign population.
All have different reasons for why they remain unregistered.

It's not just asylum seekers or undocumented migrants who have problems.
Anna, who is married to a Korean and has lived here for more than 20 years also asked for a more compassionate visa policy.
As an only child, she's the only one left in her family who can take care of her mother.
To increase the chances of sponsoring her mother with permanent residence, Anna has applied for naturalization.
But even if Anna becomes Korean, there is currently no law that would allow her to sponsor her mother's visa.

"I just wish there were more systems for migrants to protect their rights."

With the presidential election coming up soon, I went to talk to the camps of all four presidential candidates to hear their take on migrant issues.

"We will create a multicultural committee within our party and hear what problems international families face and then create comprehensive policies. From there, we will also try to expand discussions to include immigration policies."

"Many E9 workers reach higher skills, sufficient skills. But nevertheless they have to leave the country Let such workers stay longer and also facilitate their transition to other statuses like E7 which are given to various kind of skilled workers."

"Korea needs to amend its refugee law. Refugees are basically human right violation victims. We need to understand that their lives are at risk. We should ease the standards on who is accepted as a refugee and help them during their stay."

"We have the lowest birth rate in the world. In three years' time we will be an aging society. That's why immigration will be Korea's new survival tactic. To do that, our camp believes that there should be a separate immigration office or ministry in charge of relative duties so that we can avoid excessive spending on similar policies launched by different ministries."

As all camps said immigration policies need to be reviewed and strengthened now more than ever.
Because these policies will determine whether migrants can actually achieve the Korean Dream.
Shin Ye-eun, Arirang News."
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