SINGAPORE - The number of employers arrested for hiring illegal immigrants or overstayers has jumped more than three times in the first six months of this year, according to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
A total of 55 people were nabbed compared to 15 in the same period last year and 18 in 2011, it said in a report released on Tuesday.
But these errant bosses are "likely to be outliers", said vice-president Kurt Wee of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Asme).
"Employers in Singapore are by and large very compliant. It would take a desperate business with low margins and no large investments to take such a risk and hire these workers," he added.
The ICA did not give details of the nationalities of these immigration offenders but said they were hired in industries such as food and beverage, and construction.
They often move from one job to another to avoid getting caught, said an ICA spokesman.
A key reason for the sharp rise in arrests, the spokesman said, is that the ICA has taken over all investigative and related tasks from the police in July last year.
It has led to a more centralised management of cases and greater coordination and efficiency in tackling immigration offences, the spokesman added.
The ICA now oversees the process of arresting, investigating and prosecuting such offenders, while continuing to work with the police and the Ministry of Manpower in its enforcement efforts.
For the same reason, the number of people caught harbouring illegal immigrants and overstayers also soared during the first half of this year.
There were a total of 111 offenders, compared to 19 in the same period last year and 21 in 2011.
In all, there were 1,311 illegal immigrants and overstayers arrested in the first half of this year - a 0.5 per cent decrease from the 1,318 caught during the same period last year.
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