Myanmar migrant workers face waves of challenges in Thailand

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Undocumented Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand are struggling in many ways since they are living in hiding and are far from any employment opportunities, the volunteers who assist the migrant workers said.

From August 1 to August 15, the Thai government provided “pink” cards to undocumented illegal migrant laborers as employment and stay permits.

Since August, migrant workers who crossed the border illegally have been hiding in appropriate locations because they lack legitimate work permits and are concerned about being detained by Thai police and immigration officials.

About the challenges experienced by illegal Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand, U Aung Kyaw, a representative of the Migrant Workers’ Rights Network (MWRN), said, “Since illegal immigrants lack legal residency, they are unable to roam freely. They can be arrested at any time and deported by the authorities.”

There are many career opportunities in Thailand, but Thai employers only hire immigrants with legal documentation, meaning that many undocumented migrants have little chance of getting a job.

Due to this lack of legal residency and employment, some Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand are struggling to make ends meet and eventually end up committing suicide.

Ko Lin, a migrant worker from Mon state who entered Thailand illegally, said that despite having been in Thailand for three years, he still has no job and is forced to live in hiding out of fear of being detained by Thai police.

The illegal border crossing of Myanmar migrant workers into Thailand increased after the military coup in February 2021.

The political instability, lack of employment opportunities, and economic crisis driven by the military coup are all factors that have led to an increase in the number of Myanmar migrant workers entering Thailand, the labor activists said.

In Thailand, there are migrant workers who enter illegally through the Thai-Myanmar border and also those who came to work through the official MOU system.


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