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LCQ22: Combating immigration offences
     Following is a question by the Hon Lam So-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Tang Ping-keung, in the Legislative Council today (May 10):
     Some frontline officers of the disciplinary forces have told me that the number of non-ethnic Chinese illegal immigrants (IIs) intercepted by them has been on the rise in recent years. On combating immigration offences, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of IIs intercepted in the past three years and, among them, the number of those who were non-ethnic Chinese (with a breakdown by their places of origin);
(2) of the usual means through which the IIs mentioned in (1) entered Hong Kong;
(3) whether there are actions to further intercept IIs to safeguard the interests of Hong Kong; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(4) of the number of reports on immigration offences made online received by the Immigration Department in the past three years, and the number of persons prosecuted; whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the approach of receiving reports online?
     Having consulted the Hong Kong Police Force (the Police) and the Immigration Department (ImmD), the consolidated reply to the Hon Lam So-wai's question is as follows:
(1) and (2) According to the Police's and the ImmD's information, during the period from 2020 to March 2023, the number of illegal immigrants (IIs) intercepted, as well as the nationality breakdown of those IIs who were non-ethnic Chinese (NEC) are tabulated below:
Year Number of IIs Number of NECIIs
Vietnamese Pakistani Bangladeshi Indian Others Total
2020 1 949 693 211 146 57 14 1 121
2021 2 226 586 141 57 52 14 850
2022 1 155 335 65 38 35 9 482
(as at end-March)
146 29 14 6 4 2 55

     NECIIs entered Hong Kong illegally mainly by sea, while the remaining entered Hong Kong illegally by land.
(3) To intercept illegal immigration activities, the Police has taken stringent security measures and enforcement actions along the land and sea boundaries, including enhanced inspections at gathering blackspots of IIs, high-profile land and sea patrol, as well as set-up of roadblocks at strategic locations. Also, the Police and the ImmD have all along strengthened enforcement actions in collaboration with Mainland authorities, and have since 2016 commenced dedicated joint operations against illegal immigration and mounted various anti-NECII operations to strengthen interception. These sustained and vigorous efforts have yielded prominent outcome, with the number of NECIIs intercepted monthly dropped by nearly 90 per cent, from a monthly average of 318 in 2015 to 36 during the period from 2022 to March 2023.
     At the same time, the ImmD has been sparing no effort in mounting territory-wide operations against illegal employment in full swing and taking joint enforcement operations with the Police where necessary. During the period from 2021 to March 2023, a total of 29 489 operations (a monthly average of 1 092 operations) on targeted establishments against NEC illegal workers were conducted by the ImmD, as compared with 8 989 such operations (a monthly average of 749 operations) conducted in 2020, representing an increase of nearly 46 per cent in the monthly average. The ImmD will continue to closely monitor the situation of NECIIs taking up illegal employment in Hong Kong and step up enforcement actions to reduce their economic incentives in entering and staying in Hong Kong.
(4) The ImmD has since January 2009 launched the "Online Reporting of Immigration Offences" system (Online Reporting System), which facilitates members of the public to report suspected immigration offences. During the period from 2020 to March 2023, the number of reports received by the ImmD through the Online Reporting System is tabulated below, and the ImmD does not maintain relevant prosecution statistics:
Year Number of reports received by the ImmD through the Online Reporting System
2020 1 018
2021 1 284
2022 1 134
(as at end-March)

     The Online Reporting System serves as an additional convenient reporting channel for members of the public, and they may also report to the ImmD and/or the Police through other means. The ImmD will review the effectiveness of the relevant measures from time to time, and will continue to strengthen actions against illegal immigration and unlawful employment at various levels, including intercepting at source, taking enforcement actions and stepping up promotional and educational efforts.
Ends/Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:40
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