You are here: Home » Artikel » Pak Fahri: Immigration Law Moves From ‘The Wall’ To ‘The Gateway’

Pak Fahri: Immigration Law Moves From ‘The Wall’ To ‘The Gateway’

cara-membuat-pasporThe newly endorsed immigration law has won big applause from both citizens and foreigners staying and interested in investing in Indonesia, as it expresses the country’s respect for human rights and is an integral reform for the immigration bureaucracy and the people’s traffic into and from the country.

Law and human rights can be described as two sides of the same coin: distinctive but inseparable. Law enforcement requires an appreciation of human rights values, while respect for and protection of human rights without law enforcement is powerless.

The new immigration law essentially regulates the traffic of people, especially their entrance into and exit from the country. In this context, immigration functions as the wall and as the gateway that connects citizens with foreigners.

As a wall, immigration is reflected by complicated and even illogical immigration rules. The United States, under the George W. Bush presidency, for example, set up harsh immigration law, and it is considered by many as being unfriendly to foreigners. Its immigration policy as part of its war against terrorism resulted in tight arrangements for foreigners to enter that country.

As a gateway, the immigration law shows a country’s hospitality and respect for human rights, since it facilitates foreigners to come in. This paradigm has become the face of immigration in many countries, particularly developed ones. Immigration is implemented as an instrument to facilitate the entry and exit traffic of people, including immigrants and refugees, into and out of a country.

Indonesia’s immigration outlook under Law No. 12/1992, is appropriately categorized as the wall for several reasons. First, it tightly regulates foreigners living and staying in Indonesia. In addition to diplomatic and official residence permits, foreigners who live or stay in Indonesia must have a residence permit to work. Working permits are granted only to those who have certain qualifications and must not occupy high-level positions in companies, especially as human resources directors. Therefore, the recruitment of foreign workers is very selective to protect local workers and their interests.

Second, the previous immigration law doesn’t distinguish categories of foreigners: Between foreigners wanting to work and those who stay for reasons of marriage or family integration. The requirement to obtain residence permits for foreigners married to Indonesian citizens is similar to the one on the grounds of work.

Thus, a foreigner who is married to an Indonesian citizen should have his or her job as regulated by the 2003 labor law. As a result, many expatriates have to live separately over a long distance from their Indonesian spouses because they do not meet the qualifications of being foreign workers. Such unfortunate consequences also affect their adult children who apply for foreign citizenship.

Third, foreigners who are considered to be refugees are forced to leave the country on the grounds of persecution. Indonesia has not yet ratified the UN Convention on Refugees, which is why such cases have been handled by UNHCR and IOM. The absence of rulings on refugees have brought about the current regulations, entered at the discretion of the government. Yet the refugee issue in Indonesia has become serious because Indonesia is used as a transit stop by foreigners seeking asylum in other countries.

The new immigration law clearly specifies which foreigners deserve visas and the reasons and objectives for the visas being granted. The inclusion of this provision in the law reduces the government’s discretion and will help avoid deviation from the rulings by immigration officials.

The new law also identifies foreigners living and staying in Indonesia with the various categories: missionaries, workers, investors, retired persons, families of mixed marriages, husbands, wives and/or children of permanent residence permit holders and adult children of mixed marriages. Excluding mixed-marriage families, permanent residence permits are obtained after three consecutive years of residency. The previous law required a consecutive five-year stay in Indonesia.

Another phenomenal provision given in Chapter 51 is of the rights for the family of mixed marriages and their adult children who hold permanent residence permits to work and do business to earn a living and support their family. The right to work is a basic right and has a close connection with the fulfillment of other rights such as the right to live.

Although the new immigration law does not regulate on refugees implicitly, it recognizes the non-refoulement principle, which does not require them to return to their home country for humanitarian reasons.

Refugees considered to be human trafficking victims are not subject to deportation and punishment, and the government has the obligation to hand them over to UNHCR and IOM.

The new law is not ideal, but at least it shows Indonesia’s endeavor to boost its openness and become part of the world’s borderless community.

The writer is a legislator of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and chairman of the House’s special committee that deliberated the immigration bill with the government.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top