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Few takers now for iIllegals, Jeddah holdouts say
February 12, 2014, 9:23 am
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Undocumented foreign workers queue at a Passport Department office in Riyadh in this May 2013 file photo to fix their visa status. Illegal who have failed to fix their status are now finding that there are no takers for them among employers.

A number of expats in violation of the labor and residency regulations revealed to Arab News that in light of the declining security crackdowns, they have been able to move around freely and without any harassment from police.

They said that they have not faced any raids or inspections carried out by security authorities in the neighborhoods of Al-Sahifa, Al-Ruwais, Al-Qarantina, and Al-Baghdadia. Several of these illegal expats expressed their desire to return to their home countries as employers have refused to give them jobs because of their irregular residency status.

Since the expiration of the amnesty deadline four months ago, many illegal expats have managed to escape the inspections by the teams from the labor and interior ministries, but continue to suffer from the stress of searching for a job.

Mohammed Yahya, a Yemeni national living in Al-Ruwais neighborhood said he wishes to be deported to his home country as he is struggling to gain employment, but has not witnessed any security inspections so far.
His friend, Hussein Abdullah, a Sudanese national living in Al-Baghdadia neighborhood, said that despite the increase in job opportunities in the field of construction, the majority of the employers refuse to employ them for fear of incurring any penalties or sanctions for violating the system. He, too, prefers to return to his home country, rather than stay in the Kingdom without a job, he said.

A number of citizens living in the neighborhoods of Al-Ruwais and Al-Baghdadia expressed their resentment toward security authorities for failing to prosecute violators in their neighborhoods. These violators, they said, are a menace to the residents of the neighborhood because they disrupt traffic by stopping their vehicles in the middle of the road to ask for work, and are often involved in looting, robbery, and are a threat to the security in these neighborhoods.

Jeddah Police spokesman First Lt. Nawaf Al-Bouq revealed to Arab News that the security campaigns continue to operate on a daily basis in accordance with a specific agenda that categorizes areas by priority. The areas are classified according to the number of workers already present at these locations, and by the prevalence of problems communicated by the residents of the area, he said. Last January, he added, inspection teams arrested more than 1,000 violators in the neighborhoods of Al-Ruwais, Al-Baghdadia, Al-Sahifa, and the Al-Qarantina, noting that the majority of those arrested are Asian and African nationals.

Al-Bouq said that there are two types of search and investigation teams: One which carries out the general planning of the campaign, and another which develops the plan for each neighborhood a few minutes before the start of the inspection raid. This team examines the situation to make sure that the inspections are going according to plan and that the streets and roads are blocked to prevent violators of the labor regulations from escaping.

He pointed out that the above mentioned neighborhoods are the most dangerous in Jeddah because of the large number of streets and narrow alleys which allow the violators to escape, adding that those neighborhoods were raided more than once and hundreds of illegal expats arrested.

These raids and campaigns are carried out with the participation of all units and branches of public security, said Al-Booke, calling on citizens to report any sites and gathering points for the violators, stressing that when an offender does not find work, he will have to deliver himself to the authorities for deportation.

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