Traversing the laws: the unregulated movement of Filipinos in Thailand

Mary Rose Geraldine A. Sarausad, Mahidol University and Asian Institute of Technology

Thailand, like several countries in Southeast Asia, has been managing migration through policies that provide legal opportunities for labor mobility and restrict irregular migration; however, the country has been experiencing an increasing trend, not only in unskilled, but also skilled labour migration. This can be attributed primarily to labor and skills shortages in the country. Moreover, for the last five years, Thailand has a growing stock of Filipino migrants, and that an increasing number of them are irregular. Despite this trend, Filipino movement in the country has been under-explored. This research is a pioneering work in Thailand. It aimed to investigate and shed light on the trends of the movement in the country by focusing on the various factors that facilitated the movement and the various resources employed in order to remain in the country. The study used multiple approaches to data collection over a period of six months in order to reach as many Filipino migrants as possible, and to cover different categories of migrants in different sectors. A survey of 354 Filipino migrants in various provinces and borders in Thailand was conducted. Then, 25 migrants were randomly selected from the survey for the in-depth interviews. Key informant interviews, a survey of irregular Filipino migrants at the Thai-Cambodian borders, and a survey of social networking sites were also done. Findings from the research revealed new patterns of mobility, the characteristics of migrants and the different paths they took in order to move and remain in Thailand. Moreover, it was also found that many migrants move between different statuses, taking advantage of various mechanisms and resources in the process; from irregular to regular, or regular to irregular and back to being regular; thus, sustaining and perpetuating the migration system established yet less studied over a span of 40 years.

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Presented in Poster Session 1

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