Saturday, December 3, 2011

Coca-Cola Where Will Happiness Strike Next: The OFW Project

I just watched the "Coca-Cola Where Will Happiness Strike Next: The OFW Projectvideo.  I could definitely identify with the emotions highlighted in the video but I couldn't help thinking how this commendable project by Coca-Cola inadvertently highlights how nearly 1 of every 5 Filipino contract workers2 cannot ever go home because they are working overseas without legal status.  Irregular migrant workers are able to return to their home countries only if they have been captured and deported, or if they have turned themselves in and voluntarily departed.

What caught my attention in the Coca-Cola video was the babysitter, probably in his late 40s, who hadn't gone home for 11 years.  I was thinking if he had originally left 11 years ago in his late 30s for a babysitting job - which isn't at all improbable.  He could have been hired directly by his employer on the strength of a personal recommendation -- a situation sometimes referred to as "chain migration," that is, when new migration is initiated mainly due to the presence of family members or friends who are already overseas.


Monday, November 7, 2011

How long is enough?

How long should an overstayer overstay?  At what point do the costs of permanent exile abroad overtake its benefits?  What benchmarks can the overstayer apply to decide whether it is time to go back home?  Tough questions to ask, even tougher to answer.  

Last night, I met my longest-running overstayer respondent thus far: 26 years in Japan. 

As I went through my interview questions, my eyes were looking at him, my ears listening, but my mind was not paying full attention to his answers.  Instead I found myself wondering how it is at all possible to survive for so long without seeing your loved ones in person, touching them in the flesh. On my extended field research trips when I am separated from my wife and kids and I live alone in big cities and I get exhausted as I pry into the lives of my respondents, I find that loneliness creeps in inevitably and before I know it I have a raging urge to go back home.  And this is only for multiple weeks on end, the longest being just 3 months.  This guy in front of me left the Philippines when Ferdinand Marcos was still President.

Was he a monster?  Or had he developed a secret coping mechanism, allowing him to persist and even thrive in Japan for almost three decades? 

Ben Kisli, an alias, arrived in Japan in November 1985.  He was taking a Geodetic Engineering course and had been working with his father in doing technical surveying jobs when his close friend enticed him to come to Japan.

Ben Kisli, now 26 years in Japan as an overstayer,
is the spitting image of Ben Kingsley, British actor, shown above.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Life After Regularization

Is gaining legal status the ultimate goal of the Bilog?  While the lack of it completely defines the life of the Bilog, does finally securing a valid visa solve all their problems?

Let's take a closer look at the (now former) Bilog's life after regularization.

Living Freely, Moving Openly

A group of four former Bilogs achieved regularization between 2000-2005 through various means.  They now live freely and move about openly in Kamagasaki, the old, storied name (now officially renamed to Airin-Chiku since 1966) of one of Japan's biggest urban slums where day laborers and many homeless people can be found.

I first met this group in 2010 when I visited the Kamagasaki street market located right beside the Airin Labor Center at Shin-Imamiya.  They were peddling goods gathered from various sources: taken home from houses they had demolished; scavenged from trash piles; purchased also from the street market.

The street market then was a vibrant place of commerce where all kinds of goods, both new and nth-hand, were being peddled by all sorts of sellers.
Nishinari Street Market in 2010
Yesterday when I dropped by the street market to buy myself some stuff I needed to cook in my doya room, I was sad to see that the sellers were gone but not surprised that the commerce persisted, now just pushed to different methods of distribution and points of sale.  Sellers now keep their wares fully mobile (on bicycles, or pushcarts, vehicle trunks) and buyers gather around them.  The more daring ones spread out a mat and their goods on the street after the roving police pass by, and hurriedly keep them again when the police return.

Nishinari Street Market in October 30, 2011
Policemen were now driving away the street vendors since most had made makeshift, semi-permanent structures along the street sides so as not to let go of their coveted selling spots.  Residents in the area also complained of the increased congestion and general untidiness and uncleanliness as the street market now became a daily event, and not just on weekends.

Policemen in civilian clothes driving away street vendors
October 30, 2011
This group of four former Bilogs (who I shall henceforth collectively refer to as the "K Boys" - more below on why I treat them as one group) now live in their own apartments, and roam the streets without fear of arrest and deportation.

Riding bicycles is a no-no for overstayers as most of those eventually deported were arrested while riding their bicycles.  The K Boys explain that the police have a reason to stop a bicycle (to check its registration) but they have no reason to stop pedestrians.  Thus by riding a bicycle, the overstayer increases his visibility and thus his chances of arrest.

The K Boys all had bicycles, and most senior one had a vehicle.  These bicycles and vehicle were being used directly in the business of peddling goods in the street market.  Especially now that the sellers had to be able to pack up and leave in an instant, the K Boys would just sell their goods out of their bicycles and vehicle and not bother to unload them and display them on the street.

Wider Job Options

The legalized overstayer widens his job options but doesn't necessarily improve job conditions.

One of the K Boys narrated how he got laid off from a job in the hotel industry, but was able to transfer almost immediately to a job in a food preparation and packaging company.  Both jobs were blue collar in nature.  Both jobs required that the workers had the proper legal status.

The expansion of job options then happens only horizontally, that is, within the same band of blue collar work.

...[continuing story]

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Boy Chua

[PRIVACY STATEMENT:  This is to declare that Boy Chua has given his full consent to have his name and picture declared in this story - both in this blog and in the Inquirer print version.]

At 32, Boy Chua had two adopted children and his own parlor business where he was the chief beautician.   Stories from returning or vacationing Japan entertainers and from other Filipino contract workers showed him that one month’s income in Japan could easily be equivalent to a year’s income in the Philippines.

Boy Chua (2nd from right) at the Manila
International Airport in 1987
So in 1987, Boy Chua left for Japan as a tourist, overstayed his visa, worked in a Japanese restaurant for 9 years and returned home in 1996 with over 3 million pesos in savings.

Today, Boy owns 4, multi-story apartment buildings and has 53 employees working in the 4 branches of his flourishing trading business.

A high school drop-out, Boy is proud to say that his now 5 adopted children have all finished tertiary education in private schools.

Boy Chua, now 58, reflecting on
his experience as an overstayer in Japan
Yet Boy Chua, now 58, becomes teary eyed when I ask if his Japan experience was worth it.  After a long, nervous pause, he breathes deeply and exhales, letting out what to me seemed like combined wisdom and hurt waiting to be heard.

Boy lived through his first three Japanese winters with no heating, using only a Japanese table with a bulb underneath which he made to stand on its side, trapping the warmth from the bulb with blankets.  With no bathing area and no hot water, Boy picked up a discarded inflatable kid’s swimming pool, placed that in his living room, and bathed in it, pouring hot water from a pail heated with an electric water heater timed by two alarm clocks – the first one to wake him up to plug the water heater, the second one to wake him up a second time to unplug it.

But Boy chalks up his experiences of hard life in Japan to doing simply what was necessary to reach his goal.  “Malinaw sa akin parati na ang pinunta ko sa Japan ay trabaho: hindi bulakbol, hindi bisyo [It was always clear to me that I came to Japan to work: and not to waste my time in useless pursuits or vices.]," he says.

Boy Chua in 1989 as a
Bar Waiter in Japan
(one of his many second jobs). 
He took second jobs on morning shifts and weekends when he was off from his main job.  He sold clothes and furniture to friends – on order basis – with nothing but a brochure he made himself.  His mother back in the Philippines who would then send purchased products via international courier.  Boy also peddled phone cards to his co-employees to cover his own expenses for what he calls his only vices in Japan: his smoking and his frequent calling international long-distance to his mother and siblings.

Is Boy Chua’s story typical of all Filipino overstayers?  Between 2000 and 2009, those deported or returned from Japan have reached more than 50,000.1  Can his success today be attributed to his experiences as an overstayer in Japan?  Or was it his being Chinese-Filipino?

Filipino migrant overstayers now represent nearly 1 of every 5 Filipino contract workers2 or “temporary” migrants among the 2009 total of 8.5 million Filipino migrants worldwide.  All the overstayers in Japan that I interviewed gambled their futures and those of their families chasing the Japan dream – whatever that represented to each of them, entering Japan using fake names, tampered passports, bogus paternity claims or using valid personal information but with different intentions.  For some their Japan sojourn was a one-way, self-imposed exile lasting decades, losing contact with their families by force of circumstance, in the perspective of the migrant, or by irresponsibility and selfishness, in the perspective of the forgotten dependents. 

While a few successfully graduated into legal status most of them returned home (more due to arrests rather than voluntary surrender), clinging to the fantasy of forgiveness and reunification with wives and children who have long since moved on in life without them.  Most came home broke and with job skills attuned to Japanese market, they are unable to reintegrate into local jobs, remaining stuck in limbo, as it were, secretly wishing to return to Japan and do everything again but this time differently, now knowing better.

What I find compelling about Filipino TNTs – or “Tago Ng Tago” (“always hiding”) as is their popular moniker in the Philippines – is how their stories of adversity, ingenuity, triumph and defeat, redemption or vindication show the frontiers, the limits, if you will, of the Filipino migration experience, pointing to the valuable lessons in Filipino reciprocity or “utang na loob,” migrant rights and thus democracy and the dynamics of social boundaries or how belief systems are negotiated along issues created by lack of legal status.

Previous studies have sufficiently highlighted how typical (legal) migrant families face daunting challenges of child-rearing and marital fidelity given the loss of one or both parents to overseas work.  But remember that on top of the challenges of the legal migrant, the TNT migrant faces additional already crippling liabilities such as, mainly: the perpetual threat of arrest and deportation and therefore the inability to make any semblance of planning and projections, the virtually permanent removal of physical intimacy from society-prescribed “valid” sources and the inherent job insecurity thus affecting both frequency, quantity and overall reliability of remittances to dependents (not to mention any savings).  

What then do the social costs of illegal migration look like?   And if these social costs far outweigh the perceived TNT benefits, what then are the policy and migration management imperatives for government and non-government organizations?

If only for the economic reason that at stake is almost US$1.3billion in (2009) annual remittances,3  theoretically attributable to irregular migrants, understanding how this sector of Filipino migrants survive or thrive, and under what circumstances, and whether sustainably or just deceivingly long-term, must not be neglected.  

Boy Chua and 3 Million Pesos Savings in 9 Years as Overstayer

Boy worked 6 days a week from 1pm to 11pm.  He was paid ¥120,000 a month starting October, 1987, reaching ¥260,000 by the time he surrendered and returned home in March 1996.  Quick computations reveal that Boy’s savings level consistently averaged at 50% of his gross income.
Boy Chua preparing various Japanese dishes
Boy’s existing parlor business supported the living expenses of his two adopted children.  He would ask returning friends to hand carry his savings and give it directly to his mother for safekeeping.  It would be Boy’s mother who would finally convince him to return home in 1996 on account of his savings having already reached 3 million, not yet counting additional earnings as Boy’s money was also used as rolling capital in the family business.

Boy Chua and Intimacy Needs

In 1988, not even a year into his entry, Boy spent over P150,000 pesos (almost ¥900,000 in 1988 exchange rates or about 6-months worth of his monthly salary) to bring his boyfriend to Japan to live with him.   Boy explains that he did this also so that his boyfriend could also support his own parents and siblings.
Boy Chua and his boyfriend at their workplace
Boy's boyfriend  began working almost immediately and they lived together in his free apartment.  In less than a year his boyfriend was arrested while riding a bicycle and deported within days.

But Boy brought back his boyfriend to Japan almost immediately, spending another P150,000, this time through a false name and a tampered passport, and now entering through a different airport.

But his boyfriend eventually got into illegal drugs and Boy finally broke off with him.

Next to physical intimacy needs, having a girlfriend with legal status allows overstayers to secure a number of key survival logistics such as housing and utilities (only legal residents are able to take out leases and subscribe to utilities), access to a mobile phone, representation to police authorities and shielding from arrest, transacting in financial institutions (to send remittances, etc), even employment sourcing as full mobility and thus wider networks ultimately redounds to having more tips on job leads.

True, it could be argued that overstayers may access these needed support and help from one’s local network of friends without having to enter into a relationship with them, as is indeed the case with a number of my other overstayer respondents.

But, to be sure, the overstayer’s liaisons with legal residents are not solely one-way in benefit.  Living together entails sharing in rent, food and virtually all living expenses.   Technically, this would still amount to the same, if not lesser, expense level if the overstayer were to live alone.   The dilution of resources happens when the couple’s combined income is divided now for two families back in the Philippines, that is, the overstayer’s family and the legal resident’s family.

There could be a gender-based angle to this overstayer predicament, if I may call it that.

In 2009, a large majority of overstayers earned a daily salary between ¥5,000 to ¥10,000 per day.4    That there were twice as many men as there were women in this group could be interpreted to mean that there are more women overstayers who may be forced to take the option of seeking intimacy liaisons to secure much needed survival support.  

One of my women overstayer respondents had, at one time, 2 Japanese boyfriends: one single and one married, each giving her ¥100,000 a month to cover her rent and other expenses.   My respondent explained that since she lacked legal status she would be called to work at the hostess bar only a few nights a week, sometimes even skipping weeks when police inspections would be frequent, she was desperate for financial support and resorted to having two boyfriends.

In the struggle to secure critical living logistics overstayers may find themselves in various forms of liaisons that satisfy human intimacy needs but which also inevitably lessen the degree to which their primary goal, that is, supporting their dependents, is achieved.  

In this sense, in order to live for the short term, overstayers doom themselves to being less effective providers in the long run.  For the Filipino overstayer in Japan, each day of life means longer days of death (or virtual and effective absence) to his dependents back home.

Boy Chua and What a Responsible Overstayer Is

Boy explained that as an overstayer the most important thing is to remember your original goal in coming to Japan and to stick to this goal no matter how hard it gets.   For overstayers, he explains, the common practice is to earn enough money to be able to get over one’s expenses and whatever is left is then remitted to dependents for their monthly sustenance, and anything left after expenses and remittances then becomes savings.

Boy did the exact opposite.

He set a target savings amount per month and his lifestyle choices, and thus expense levels, were defined by the money that was left after his savings.  If you will recall, he had a parlor business back home that supported his two adopted children so that was also a big load off his back.   Since the overstayer has already sacrificed his physical presence and/or parenting role to dependents and family back home, Boy insists that dependents and savings must now take the primary and biggest cut from the overstayer’s salary.

Doing the opposite method (expenses before remittances and savings), the overstayer then becomes quite vulnerable to two major temptations.   Money disappears very fast in Japan and the overstayer soon realizes that it becomes easy to justify lifestyle choices as living expense levels.

“Enough” income is impacted greatly by one’s entertainment and lifestyle choices in Japan such as, among others, habitual gambling, heavy smoking, excessive drinking, womanizing, using prohibited drugs, constant partying, etc.  The more high-end one’s lifestyle choices are, the higher the threshold of income sufficiency and the less money sent back home to support dependents.   The first temptation then for the overstayer is fleeting fun and superficial pleasure that functions as the overstayer’s main weapon to combat loneliness because permanently stripped away from him are his primary social anchors, his family and the network of the familiar back home.

To finance his lifestyle choices, the overstayer can very easily slip into the second temptation – criminal activities – where money is easy but where all his dreams for his dependents can vanish in an instant.

In 2009, visiting Filipinos committed 4 crimes a day.5   Also in 2009, roughly 2 illegal immigrants were arrested everyday for penal code crimes.6 

While these crime rates can be argued to be relatively negligible, representing only 1% of the population of visiting Filipinos in 2009 and also only 1% of the population of illegal immigrants in 2009, the point still remains valid that when push comes to shove and dependents are screaming out for their monthly sustenance the temptation of crime becomes a very real option.  And, lest we forget, these statistics only show the numbers of those known to the Japan police.

Boy cautions current overstayers to stay away from criminal activities and instead focus their energies on staying connected with their families, summoning all their skills and talents to maximize their incomes in Japan and to make the decision, as quickly as possible, to return home and restart their lives or continue where they left off.  Being in Japan, Boy reminds all overstayers, does not mean that one’s family in the Philippines disappears.

Boy Chua and Keeping Anchored to the Local Filipino Community

Boy knew all too well the value of proactively cultivating, maintaining and expanding one's local network of friends -- the most proximate and major resource for one's emotional and social well-being.  As a natural entrepreneur, Boy understood that a healthy connection to the local Filipino community also meant that he had a steady stream of potential customers for his products.  He participated in activities of the local Filipino association, and remained an active member of the Catholic parish in his locality.
Boy Chua (4th from left, front row) with local Filipino community
Boy Chua during President Ramos' visit to Japan in 1993

Boy Chua and Staying Connected with his Family

Boy stayed intimately connected with his family throughout his entire stay in Japan.  He helped his younger sister by putting her in touch with Japanese suppliers that her trading business needed.  Seeing that his elder brother was struggling to support his family, Boy offered the option to bring his elder brother’s wife to Japan – at his expense – to do factory work.   His sister-in law stayed in Japan for two-and-a-half years, also as an overstayer, also living with Boy at his apartment.  On top of his sister-in-law and his boyfriend, Boy also financed the entry into Japan of two of his other gay friends, also as overstayers.

He would consistently send half a truck’s worth of balikbayan boxes four times every year containing toys and other gifts for family and close relatives, making sure to put all “Nanay” [“Mother”] as the names of the packages so that it would be his mother who would decide how best to distribute the gifts, so as to avoid any issues of jealousy or favoritism by him.  Boy also emphasizes that one reason for his ability to save money in Japan was because not once did any of his two elder brothers and lone younger sister ever ask him for any money, even at the times that he knew their respective businesses were going through hard times.

His relationship with his mother was an especially close one.  He would call multiple times in a week, sharing burdens, challenges and happiness and hurts.  When he first realized that he didn’t have any hot water in his free apartment, it was his mother that Boy called first.   Mrs. Chua immediately sent a water heater but it was not usable as its power rating was 220volts.

In the 9th year of Boy's Japan sojourn,  after threatening Boy over  a phone call that if he stayed longer in Japan he may not see her alive anymore, Mrs. Chua suddenly popped up in Japan to personally fetch him to come home with her.

Mrs. Chua’s tough love worked as Boy surrendered and arrived back in Manila on March 26, 1996.

The Boy Chua Story:  Lessons Learned, Future Earned

I struggle to capture the essential message of Boy's story for today’s Filipino overstayers in Japan.

Is it a guide, a blueprint on how to be a successful overstayer?  There were too many exceptional variables working in his favor: a functioning business that supported his dependents, 100% employment thru 9 years, his lifestyle dictated by his goals, a loving mother that anchored his journey and guided him back home.  A guide must be realistic and fit to its intended users.

Does his story redefine the limits of overstaying or showcase its possibilities?  If lonely, import your own loved ones, twice.  Share your blessings: encourage (and pay for) other overstayers to join you.  Overstayer spending sequence:  remittances, savings, expenses.   I think more than limits and possibilities, it was the rare clarity of his goals and unwavering dedication to them that may be a timely reminder.

Ultimately, I believe the power of Boy's story is found in the future that it defined for him.  Overstaying is not a death sentence, but a temporary retreat from loved ones to prepare for the impending future which will come whether you prepare for it or not.  Boy Chua chose to prepare for it, applying lessons learned, resulting thus in his future earned. 
Boy Chua, July 2011, at the helm of his
general merchandise trading business
A shortened version of Boy Chua's story entitled "Bilog: 9 years in hiding in Japan" was published at the Inquirer Global Nation on October 9, 2011.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bilog Savings - Empirical Data

How does lack of legal status affect migrant savings?   The case of BINGO (not my respondent's real name) may help shed some light on the issue.

I share below (with the respondent's permission) his bank transactions data:

Let's begin by taking a closer look at BINGO's deposits and withdrawals from May 15, 2001 (first deposit) to September 9, 2011 (last withdrawal).  Below are eleven pages of two bank books of BINGO.

Eleven Pages of BINGO's Bank Account
Since some amounts are not entered clearly I made an excel file of the bank transactions for your easy reference.  I made the following observations:

- Frequency of deposits is 58% or 7 out of 12 months in a year.
(computation method: 85 months of savings in Japan from May 15, 2001 to May 10, 2008 divided by 49 deposits made in that period)

- Average amount per deposit is P14,000.
Note that deposits were made in Yen and converted to Pesos.  The JPY-to-Peso exchange rate during the period 2001-2008 thus becomes relevant to assess the magnitude of the P14,000 relative to BINGO's salary level.  Converted to Yen, average deposit amount is ¥30,000 and total deposited amount in 7 years is ¥1,500,000.

- P350,000 was withdrawn from the Philippines in 2007 when BINGO was still in Japan.  BINGO explained that he had authorized this withdrawal for the purpose of starting a computer rental business to be run by his family, specifically his eldest son.  More below on how this business venture fared.

- BINGO then had not P700,000 but only P350,000 as savings upon his return to Manila in May 2008.  He made 10 withdrawals in quick succession over a period of just two months totaling P355,000.

- Deposits from Japan continued even after BINGO returned to Manila.  Eleven deposits totaling roughly P350,000 were made monthly starting June 2008 up to June 2009.  More below on who these deposits were from.

[to be continued...]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Illegal Migrants and Crime: It Still Doesn’t Pay

Just last week (July 19), the National Police Agency(NPA) of Japan released its yearly summary report on crimes in Japan.  Entitled "The White Paper on Police 2010," the report discusses all types of crimes in Japan from illegal parking to organized crime within what it calls a theme of "Globalization of Crime and Police Efforts."

Table 1 below is a top-level, summary table, culled out from selected sections of the 2010 report and from other previous reports by the Bureau of Immigration and the Ministry of Justice, that focuses on crimes of Filipinos, foreigners in general and illegal immigrants.

[Note to the reader:  The reader is advised to read through some important explanatory notes found at the end of Table 1, detailing the categorization and composition of the data which, in turn, is set by the specific data definitions adopted by the National Police Agency of Japan.]

Table 1:  Crimes in Japan by Type, Filipino Nationality, Total Foreigners and Legal Status, 2009  [PDF Copy]
[Source Tables: Table 2, Table 3, Table 4]

Regarding Total Crime of Foreigners in Japan (please refer to Table 1 above):
- Among 36 visiting foreigners arrested for crimes everyday, 4 (10%) are Filipinos.  
- Among 76 cases cleared everyday (“cleared” meaning those cases for which arrests were made or those subsequently solved) by the police, 4 (5%) cases involve Filipinos.
- The 36 visiting foreigners arrested everyday represented 0.2% of the total visiting foreigners in Japan in 2009.
- The 4 Filipinos arrested everyday represented 1% of the total visiting Filipinos in Japan in 2009.

Regarding Penal Code Offenses of Foreigners in Japan(please refer to Table 1 above):
- Majority (56 cases or almost 3 out of every 4 or 74%) of the total crimes of visiting foreigners that are cleared by the police everyday involve penal code offenses.
- These 56 cases of penal code offenses involving visiting foreigners represent 1 out of every 20 (or 4%) of the national Japan total of 1,492 penal code cases cleared each day.
- Among 20 visiting foreigners arrested everyday for penal code offenses, approximately 2 (1.7 to be exact) are illegal immigrants.
- The 20 visiting foreigners arrested everyday (totaling 7,190 for the year) for penal code cases represented 0.1% of the visiting foreigner population in Japan in 2009 and 2% of the national Japan total of 912 arrests daily for penal code offenses.
- The 2 illegal immigrants arrested everyday (totaling 621 for the year) for penal code offenses represented 1% of the illegal immigrant population of 113,072 in Japan in 2009 and 0.2% of the national Japan total of 912 arrests everyday for penal code offenses.
- Among 20 visiting foreigners arrested everyday for penal code offenses, just over 1 (1.5 to be exact) are Filipinos.
- The 1.5 Filipinos arrested everyday (totaling 521 for the year) for penal code offenses represented 0.4% of the visiting Filipinos in Japan in 2009 and 0.2% of the national Japan total of 912 arrests everyday for penal code offenses.

Table 2 below goes into further detail regarding the types of penal code offenses committed by Filipinos, visiting foreigners, comparing these against the national Japan figures.
Table 2:  Selected Penal Code Crimes Committed by Filipinos in Japan, 2009
[PDF Copy]

Regarding the detailed types of penal code offenses of visiting foreigners in Japan (please refer to Table 2 above):

- The penal code offenses for which Filipinos have been arrested are, among others: offenses classified as “serious” such as murder, robbery, rape, abduction, indecent assault; and, larceny offenses including burglary theft, motor vehicle theft, purse-snatching and pick-pocketing.  It is to be noted that these specified offenses listed in available online data comprise less than 10% (44 of 541) of the penal code offenses by Filipinos.  Thus, Filipinos have been arrested for other types of penal code offenses but only those listed in Table 2 have been specified in online data located.
- Among the penal code offenses listed in Table 2 for which Filipino visiting foreigners have been arrested, Robbery and Burglary Theft are the two major ones (25 offenses or more than half of the 44 listed penal code offenses. This same trend applies also for the visiting foreigners (504 of 746 penal code offenses of visiting foreigners are Robbery and Burglary Theft).
- The 7,190 Penal code offenses for which visiting foreigners were arrested in 2009 represent 2.2% of the national Japan total of 332,888 arrests.

Table 3:  Selected Penal Code Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants in Japan, 2009
[PDF Copy]

Regarding the detailed types of penal code offenses of illegal immigrants in Japan (please refer to Table 3 above):

- Illegal immigrants arrested for penal code offenses in 2009 (621 persons) comprised 0.2% of the national Japan total of 332,888 arrests.
- Comparisons can be made only on the Break-In Robbery and Break-In Burglary categories given completeness of data found online, thus far.  Some data and summation clarifications are currently still being resolved.
- Illegal immigrants arrested for Break-In Robberies (15 arrests) represented 1.4% of the national Japan figure of 1,072 arrests.
- Illegal immigrants arrested for Break-In Burglaries (139 arrests) represented 1.3% of the national Japan figure of 10,852 arrests.

Table 4:  Top Five Nationalities in Crimes Committed in Japan, 2001-2010
[PDF Copy]

Regarding the top five nationalities in crimes committed in Japan (please refer to Table 4 above):

- In 2009, a big majority (22,390 cases or 80%) of the 76 crime cases cleared everyday by the police (totaling 27,836 cases yearly) are committed by nationals from only 5 countries, namely: China (Biggest, Rank 1), Brazil, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines (Rank 5).  Moreover, nationals from only 2 countries already account for the majority of these 76 crime cases cleared everyday by the police, namely:  China (45%) and Brazil (14%) with a combined percentage of 59%.
- In 2009, the percentage of total crimes cleared by police as a percentage of the total population of visiting foreigners of all nationalities is 0.4%.  Moreover, it is Brazil which has the largest percentage of both total crime cases cleared (6.2%) by the police and individuals arrested (1.5%).
- In 2009, the percentage of total crimes cleared by police as a percentage of the total population of Filipinos was 1%.
- In 2009, the percentage of total crimes for which Filipinos were arrested as a percentage of the total population of visiting Filipinos was 0.9%.

Not a few of my bilog respondents have told me that in fact local police know they exist and abound in the areas where they patrol but that they are largely left alone to their own devices – as long as they do not commit any crime.

Butch narrated how he was scooped up during a routine dragnet in the gaijin house he was staying in, being immediately brought to the police station where he spent a few days in detention.  He was subsequently released upon the relentless and persistent appeals for mercy by a Filipina permanent resident, Butch’s live-in partner at that time, who had good relations with the local police.  As he was released Butch was given a stern admonition to stay out of any trouble and not do anything illegal.  While Butch may have been saved by the good social relations and dogged determination of his social capital of permanent residents, Larry’s story, on the other hand, highlights the power of just pure sincerity, not to mention plain luck.

Larry was also with a Filipina permanent resident and they were eating at a Chinese restaurant.  Larry explains that it still isn’t clear to him what had brought about what happened next, but they were suddenly approached by three men, in plainclothes, who quickly identified themselves as immigration agents.  They were both asked to show their identification cards and, not having any, Larry gave the excuse that he had left his at home.  That had not been the first time that Larry was subjected to a routine check, though it was the first time he had experienced one indoors, that is, not on the street, and his reason of having left his papers at his home had previously worked.  That time though, Larry explains, the immigration agents seemed especially persistent, and volunteered to accompany him back to his home to get his papers so that they could inspect them.  And so they did.

On the walk back to Larry’s apartment, he had thought of just admitting that he had no papers.  In the previous times this strategy had worked, the agents would get called out to another assignment or would lose steam in the journey to the apartment, and, in both cases, he had subsequently been allowed to go.  But no, Larry decided to push his luck farther, sticking by his little modus operandi.

Reaching his Doya, Larry was still hoping against hope that the agents would just let him go.  But as he opened the door to his 2.5 tatami-sized room, Larry knew at that point that he would have to just come clean and tell them the truth.  He showed them his old passport, explaining that he had long wanted to go back home but that he had not yet been able to save up enough money for the plane fare, and that he would be very grateful if the Japanese government could help him get home.  To his great surprise, the agents eventually didn’t bring him to the immigration detention center.  He was just advised to save money as fast as he could, return home soon and that he should stay out of trouble.

A number of key respondents have also shared stories pointing to how keeping away from crime impacts on the lives of illegal migrants positively or, conversely, how just one criminal offense can mean immediate deportation, wiping away one’s decades-long illegal tenure.  At one level, these narrations may, in fact, be anecdotal and not have come directly from the concerned parties.  However, I judge them to still be worthy of mentioning due to the strength of the credentials or authority of the key informant on the subject matter being discussed.

As a Catholic priest in Japan, Fr. Carlos regularly visited Filipino migrants detained at the immigration detention center, helping them with their day-to-day, material needs (providing toiletries, etc) as well as providing other forms of pastoral care such as giving spiritual guidance, administering the applicable sacraments, and other forms of requested counseling services.  One of the Filipino detainees he was visiting had been an overstayer in Japan for over two decades.  This particular detainee decided not to contest his deportation order, but couldn’t leave because he had no money to buy his own plane ticket [cite the rule on buying own ticket], causing him to stay in detention for several months. One day, Fr. Carlos didn’t see this detainee anymore at the detention center, and inquiries as to his whereabouts were given the reply that he was released but with no reason being given.  Fr. Carlos had subsequently verified through the local Filipino community that he was indeed released and that he was told by immigration officers to just move out of the city and not come back.  One of the reasons for his release, cited by those Fr. Carlos had talked to, was that this particular detainee had no criminal record

It would seem that side by side with the formal implementation of immigration laws exists an informal rule, a subterranean reality, if you will, that mercy may be extended to overstayers, their honest-to-goodness, day-to-day, back-breaking work may be condoned, as long as they don’t cross that threshold of crime.  To be sure, the stories of Butch and Larry are very rare exceptions to the rule, and should not be counted upon by current or future overstayers as factors that may help prolong their illegal stay as a migrant workers in Japan.

A rule is a rule and must be followed, and you indeed will get a fare and square application of this rule if you engage the authorities on the formal level or public sphere where one becomes vulnerable to scrutiny and where saving face and projecting the firmness of authority become the paramount value.  But if one very respectfully appeals for reconsideration, citing humanitarian grounds, and that this is done through informal channels, discussions being done in a private matter, and backed up with representations from legal and/or respected members of the community or formal organizations, then there may be a slim chance that one may get lucky.

[continuing article]...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Some Notes on Document and Information Integrity

I would like to highlight that there is a subtle, though meaningful, distinction between bogus documents and bogus information.  Bogus documents show bogus information.  Bogus information is not necessarily conveyed only through bogus documents.  The integrity of a document can be compromised in three ways, as follows:

1). Type A: Commercially Produced Documents – Bogus documents that are produced by commercial interests (acting independently or in collusion with the legitimate document-producing authority [such as through the provision of authentic paper material on which to print the bogus documents, or through profit kickbacks that ensure their continued operation]).

2). Type B: Tampered Authentic Documents – Bogus documents that are issued by the legitimate document-producing authority but with subsequent superficial document tampering done by an unscrupulous member of that legitimate document-producing authority (either acting individually or upon instruction by other unscrupulous members of the legitimate document-producing authority) or by an independent third-party individual or organization;

3). Type C: Authentic Documents with Bogus Information – Authentic documents issued by the legitimate document-producing authority that require no further tampering as the information it displays already reflects the information desired by the migrant.  The authentic information is replaced with bogus information by editing the electronic database from where the information on the authentic document is pulled.

These three types vary in terms of their cost, ease of acquisition and ease of verification.  Rarely are migrants involved in choosing which type is to be used in producing the documentation requirements that they need as these nitty-gritty details are handled by third-party individuals or commercial interests that help them beat migration control(for a commensurate fee).

Type A documents are the cheapest in cost, easiest to access, and fastest to produce.  In Recto Street, found in the Quiapo area which is in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, education credentials (a diploma, transcript of records, certificate of graduation) can be purchased for only US$10-US$30, taking a maximum of only 1 hour to produce.  See some pictures of the thriving, bogus document industry in Recto, Manila, Philippines.

Picture 1:  Smallest Signboard  

Picture 2:  Signboards every 10 steps

Picture 3:  Signboards on Both Sides of the Street

Type B documents are harder to obtain as they require having an insider contact or having a contracted third-party agent who will do the needed tampering of information.  Verification of the authenticity of Type A and Type B documents is the easiest to do, taking only a cursory check of the information presented with the legitimate document-producing authority.

Below is a sample of a Type B document forgery.
Specimen 1:  Pia's Philippine Passport with a Japanese Surname
Specimen 2: Pia's Japan Visa as a Japanese Descendant
Type C documents are the hardest to obtain and the most expensive in cost.  Hassan narrated how he had to personally ask for the help of a friend, a mid-level government officer, who then had to mobilize his own network of contacts, in order to get to right person who could make the needed direct editing of his personal information in the official government electronic database.  From being a married man with three children in the Bangladesh, the Type C document, costing Hassan roughly US$700, showed his civil status as single, allowing him to marry a divorced, Indonesian permanent resident, thus securing his legal status in Japan.  Type C documents are virtually impossible to detect as the legitimate, document-producing authority will keep churning out the bogus information on a fully authentic document.  The drawback though of a Type C document is that the change is permanent, unlike the external or superficial tampering done to produce Type A and Type B documents.  If, for example, Hassan will need his civil status in Bangladesh to return to being married – such as if he wishes to claim half of his wife’s inheritance or current assets...

[continuing article...]

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sorting out International Migration Typologies

I wrote previously on whether the more accurate name for my research respondents was "illegal migrant" or "irregular migrant.  Now almost a year later, after delving much deeper into the more substantive issues of migrants, I still find myself pausing for a few seconds trying to mentally locate my respondents within a broad spectrum of international migrant typologies.  While my case studies focus specifically on Filipino irregular migrant workers in Japan, my research mainly aims for coherence on the wider regional and global phenomenon of irregular migration.

Difficult parallels become more the rule rather than the exception.  How are the following irregular migration cases different from or similar to each other?
Zimbabwean undocumented aliens seeking asylum in South Africa
- Japanese overstayers (case 1: lost love; case 2: unlawful activities) in the Philippines
- Unauthorized migrant Filipinos Subaru and Jose Antonio Vargas, both entering Japan and the U.S. legally almost two decades ago, the former doing mostly blue-collar jobs, the latter finishing a university education and landing mostly white-collar jobs
- A "human tsunami" of tens of thousands of unwanted migrants arriving by boat at Lampedusa and other towns at the southernmost tip of Italy, fleeing political instability and deadly conflict in Northern Africa (see various departure points in map by Frontex, the EU border security body[also see another map of illegal migration routes in whole of the EU])
- Clandestine migrants assisted by smugglers to cross land, sea or air borders
- Forced, coerced, deceived or purchased individuals (mostly women and children) brought into another country for sexual, economic or biological (selling human organs) exploitation

It would seem that there are as many adjectives to describe irregular migration as there are categories to group the migrants in.  I've counted 13 adjectives and 8 nouns frequently used in existing literature, as follows:

Adjectives (listed in the order of most usage):
1. Illegal
2. Undocumented
3. Unauthorized
4. Irregular
5. Forced
6. Clandestine
7. Illicit
8. Unwanted
9. Undeserving
10. Prohibited
11. Illegitimate
12. Deportable
13. Overstaying
14. Runaway
15. Unfavorable

Nouns (Listed in the order of most usage):
1. Migrants
2. Immigrants
3. Workers
4. Aliens
5. Migrant Workers
6. Migrant Labor/er
7. Foreigners
8. Entrants

I've worked out a matrix of these adjectives and nouns and find that searching academic journals for "Illegal Immigrant" lists studies not found when I search again for "Undocumented Aliens."  And it doesn't end there.  A growing number of articles now use two adjectives (i.e. "Illegal and undocumented migrants") and the nouns used to describe migrants are becoming more specific to the work they do (i.e. "Domestic Workers," Expatriate Workers," "Contract Workers").  In the Philippines where nearly 10% (8.5million) of the population (88million) is overseas, we have special acronyms for our migrants: OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers), OCW (Overseas Contract Workers), TNT (Tago Ng Tago, literally "Always Hiding" which is used to refer to undocumented Filipinos overseas), DH (Domestic Helpers).  A Filipino migrant can also go by the name of "Filipino Emigrant," "Permanent Resident," "Spouses and other partners of foreign nationals," or "Filipino seafarers."

Striving for coherence in migrant typologies is helpful  for a number of reasons.

Migration Variables

First, it re-emphasizes  a number of migration variables that easily get drowned out in the noise of orphaned typologies.  The most basic of these variables is that of volition.  There can only be two:  voluntary or forced (non-voluntary).  A migrant either gives his full consent to leaving his home country or he does not.  Volition is an important variable as it puts into context the issue of any subsequent exploitation of the migrant.  That the migrant freely willed his being in a foreign land does not justify or give less reprehensibility to the discrimination, vulnerability and exploitation they are often faced with in competitive global markets.  But remembering the volition variable does re-highlight that getting to that point of being exploited was a result of a two- or multiple-stage process.  Any action or intervention planned or implemented by various stakeholders can be designed to focus on individual or multiple stages of the international migration process, carefully matching planned interventions with those stages in which the migrant has full control over, or on which he exercises full volition.

The impetus to the migrant's voluntary or forced volition brings us to the second variable, that of motivation.  A migrant voluntarily leaving his home country may have 4 types of motivations:  personal, official, educational and economic.

Under the category of personal motivation are three sub-types: those leaving for rest and recreation (tourists), those leaving to maximize their purchasing power (retirees), those leaving to reunite with family members (family reunification, descendants).  Some current definitions set a minimum duration of 1 year of being away from one's country of birth before one is considered a migrant.  However, I am including tourists and other short-term travelers (less than 1 year) in this framework as these methods of entry highlight another migration variable -- authenticity (of intention and documents) -- discussed further below.

Persons may also voluntarily leave for official reasons such as for business (investors, employees on foreign posting, corporate expatriates, etc), for state-sanctioned activities (government officials on official travel or diplomatic postings) and for various other non-government activities (socio-civic activities, religious activities, cultural activities).

Also under the voluntary category are those who leave for educational purposes (students, those on training programs, etc).

Those voluntarily leaving for purely economic (or livelihood) reasons are the migrant workers.  They can be differentiated from the Official/Business category discussed above in that migrant workers go to jobs found overseas for the first-time or return to those overseas jobs as rehires or re-contracted workers.  While the migrant worker and a person currently employed by a company in his home country and subsequently assigned or posted in another country both leave for economic reasons, the latter returns to his local job when his foreign posting ends and the former comes home unemployed if he loses his overseas job.  The migrant worker has higher economic stakes involved than the local employee posted overseas -- and for this reason I classify them under separate categories.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the migrant worker is the issue of skill, currently seen as a dichotomy (i.e: skilled and unskilled), and one which I find quite problematic.  "Unskilled" work is not work that does not require a skill to do.  It is work that requires a skill that in a continuum of market valuation of work skills is ranked as low.  This ranking is determined by a confluence of factors the major ones of which are demand and supply (the more people with a skill, the lesser the ranking), the perceived social desirability of a job (jobs perceived as dirty, difficult and demeaning are ranked low) and the imputed value or contribution of a task to the overall perceived market value of a product or service (production tasks done manually are ranked low). I will reserve going deeper into the issue of work skills for a later article.  Suffice it to say that another difference between a migrant worker and an overseas-posted employee is that while the latter does only "skilled" jobs, the former will take an "unskilled" job either because he, in fact, has the "unskilled" skills for that job, or because he is desperate enough to resort to doing that job even if he possesses "higher" skills but which he finds are unmarketable at the moment.

Figure 1 below presents in schematic form the migrant types as discussed thus far.
Figure 1:  Migrant Types - Voluntary

The other type of migration volition is that of forced or non-voluntary migration.  Some current typologies classify refugees and trafficked persons as forced migrants.  Again the quick application of the label renders some key insights into these migrant types imperceptible, almost invincible.  I believe a central issue on forced migration is the question of who (persons) or what (events) is the source of the migrant's departure under duress.

Can a refugee be considered a forced migrant even as he leaves his country by his own free will in order to ensure his safety and security from external events that are beyond his control?  Current literature list three types of external events that are "forcing" people to leave their home countries:  security events (wars, other forms of conflict), political events (repressive regimes) and environmental events (flooding, droughts, famines, earthquakes), producing refugees and asylum seekers.  If an "external event" triggers a migrant's forced departure then don't voluntary departures also have external event triggers?

Scarce local jobs push migrant workers to seek jobs overseas to ensure his economic well-being.  Highly competitive job markets convince students to strengthen their hiring chances with academic credentials from universities overseas.  At the behest of their superiors, employees or representatives of corporations and government and non-government units are required by their employment terms (and for their desire to keep their jobs) to perform official business in assignments overseas.  The insatiable quest for pleasure and enjoyment and the imperative of family togetherness impel individuals to seek overseas experiences as tourists, retirees and family members.

That the logic of the external triggers of the voluntary migration events discussed above seem to stretch the bounds of credulity hint that the volition variable is more accurately viewed as a continuum rather than a duality, that is, from full volition (fully voluntary, least force) to the least volition (fully forced, least voluntary). Thus viewed as a continuum the volition variable is represented in Figure 2 below:
Figure 2: Volition Continuum
Interpreting the volition continuum and applying this to the motivation variable would tell us that while tourists and government officials are motivated primarily by personal and official triggers, there could also be some aspect of non-voluntary volition, though minimal if not negligible, on their motivation to leave.  Conversely, while the decision of asylum seekers and refugees may be overwhelmingly forced by external events beyond their control, their departure on their own volition from their home countries is still motivated by their desire for safety and protection.

In addition to external events, forced migration may also be due to persons, motivated solely by the profit objective.  Vulnerable individuals, mostly women and children, are taken from their home countries -- by threat of direct physical harm to themselves or to their loved ones -- and brought to foreign shores to be sold to others or dealt directly to criminal entities for sexual exploitation, slavery or organ harvesting.   This activity is known as human trafficking.

This crime of human trafficking further clarifies the motivation variable.  Whose motivation?  Personal, official, educational, economic, safety/security are all motivations of the migrant.  Does a migrant have a motivation to be a victim of trafficking?  None.  The motivation for trafficking -- that of profit -- can also be said to apply to the various migration agents or third-party individuals or organizations that facilitate the mobility of migrants between countries of destination and origin.  What differentiates these third-party units then is not the profit motive, per se, but the legality of their profit-making activities.  This legal classification now becomes a sub-category of the motivation variable, as shown in Figure 3 below.
Figure 3:  Motivation Variable by Group
Clarifying the motivation variable also makes clearer two aspects of the volition variable.  First, it is the volition of the migrant that is represented by the continuum.  Second, this volition continuum applies only to the first five motivational categories, excluding the trafficked persons category which is a completely forced type of volition.

International Migration: Two Key Areas of Discord

The second reason why striving for coherence in migrant typologies is helpful is because it forces a rationalization of the actual events taking place, attempting to plot out in codified form the complex realities of  international migration.  The process of building a representative typology takes careful notice of seemingly conflicting, inconsistent aspects of the phenomenon, as verbalized by its multiple stakeholders, and uses this instances of discord to further clarify the overall typology framework.  A typology begins with a descriptive process and ends with a descriptive process, aiming for inclusiveness in its classification logic.  An accurate typology is not normative but rather integrative.  A typology must describe what is, not what should be, since there is no way to determine which perspective is the right one, or if there is, in fact, one "right" one.  Admittedly, even this current attempt at a typology can be argued to be itself subject to my own perspective or my own interpretation of the events of international migration.  Indeed, only a determined exhaustiveness in its discussion of the current issues and how they impact on the proposed typology will be its redemption.

First Area of Discord -- Irregular Migrants: One apparent discord in the proposed migrant typology (represented at this point in Figure 3 above) is the persistence of those who are called, among their many names, illegal migrants.  I qualify the term "discord" with the term "apparent" to emphasize that I use both words only to describe what could be called simply as "different."   Indeed, how can it be established that the existence of illegal migrants represents a disharmony?  Could it be that the current typology is simply incomplete and that, in fact, illegal migrants are not an aberration but are instead the black that completes the white, or the night that defines the day?

The apparent discord originates at a juncture somewhere between the volition and motivation variables, bringing us to the issue of migration means.  I use the phrase "migration means" to refer to:
1) the aggregate, macro environment of migration laws, policies and procedures by both the receiving and sending countries and the resulting government bureaucracies built to implement these;
2) the personal and social circumstances of migrants that enable them to react to this aggregate, macro environment;
3) the vibrant industry of third-party migration agents; and,
4) the overarching environment of multilateral laws, covenants and conventions related to international migration that hold countries accountable for their actions.
(Note: I will reserve a more detailed discussion on these 4 aspects of what I refer to as the means of migration to a later article.  I bring in the concept of migration means only to highlight the apparent discord which I further develop below.)

A migrant worker-to-be, either currently unemployed or feeling the rapidly mounting economic pressure of inadequate income, may exercise his volition by wanting to seek employment overseas but he finds that he doesn't possess the credentials (educational attainment, work experience, etc) required by the advertised jobs.  In addition to lack of credentials the migrant worker-to-be also finds that he either doesn’t have the financial muscle to secure the documentary requirements of a migrant worker, often going into debt in order to set in motion his sojourn overseas.

At the core of this apparent discord is an inverse relationship between the number of individuals with the skill-level and credentials required of migrants by destination countries and the number of hopeful migrant workers-to-be in source countries.  On the one hand, destination countries put high premium on doctors, nurses, engineers, computer experts and other “high-value” skills for select vacancies in their industrialized economies, and these individuals are the great minority in source countries.  On the other hand, migrant workers-to-be in source countries are far greater in numbers but they are of the “unskilled” type. The higher the skills requirement (and thus the lower the number of those that are desired by destination countries) the greater are the number of migrant workers-to-be in source countries, thus creating the imperative of migration control.

Migration control is designed to calibrate or synchronize the range of skill requirements with the number and quality of migrants entering the destination countries, carefully defining three variables to achieve this goal:

1. Border Entry
Except for refugees and asylum-seekers (who are subject to separate procedures), only those foreigners with the required documentation (visas, permits, etc) can enter a country's borders.  These documentation requirements are very carefully designed to let in only the desired number and quality of migrants, as explained above.

2. Duration of Stay (Residence status)
Border entry doesn't translate to an indefinite period of stay.  The length of authorized residency is surgically awarded only to specific socio-economic groupings of specific nationalities (cite examples of visa exemptions here) so as to a) maximize the foreign currency they spend in the local economy, b) provide the knowledge and skills for which they were brought in, c) conduct the tasks and activities for which they were allowed to enter (ie. students, cultural visit, etc).

3. Work Access
Residence status does not automatically entitle you to access the local labor market.  Work permits that define exactly the number of hours and type of work that can be done are given only to a) those whose entry was dependent on pre-approved work visas, b) those whose work earnings will serve to further secure payments that go to access of local services (tuition fees, insurance payments, etc).

[cite tax payments as a 4th item using the case of the eu]

Returning to the proposed migrant typology, how does this inverse relationship impact on the volition and motivation variables discussed thus far?  An analogy that comes to mind is the image of air (in bubbles) trapped underwater.  The water (migration control) can only control the bubbles (migrant workers) to a certain extent but the sheer force of natural law dictates that the bubbles will eventually find their way to the surface (get into the country).  Migration control thus adds another variable in the migrant typology, the variable of Authenticity, the first of type of which is the Authenticity of Documents.

Migration control cannot suppress the economic motivation on the side of the migrants-to-be in destination countries.  What migration control attempts to achieve is to let in, at the exact configuration it desires, only those migrants whose collective presence in the destination country will be deemed consistent with its aspirations, that is, to maintain the existing quality of life it so desires.  For the migrants-to-be, migration control represents a barrier to be overcome, not one that effectively stops them.  Using the tactics and resources that are available to them locally, they will produce the needed documents required by migration control – thus overcoming it, allowing them to leave as migrants on personal, official, or educational purposes, but with their real motivation being economic purposes, that is, to find work and support their dependents.

Pia re-entered Japan for the 7th time as a child of a Japanese national, on the strength of manufactured documents, after her previous 6 visits to Japan as an entertainer.  Alex secured a new passport on an assumed name, allowing him to enter into a second marriage with a woman of Japanese descent, he and his second wife entering Japan successfully in 2002.

The variable of Authenticity plays out not only in terms of bogus documents, but also in terms of bogus intentions.  Migrants-to-be may be travelling on the strength of authentic documents, but have the objective of exploiting loopholes in migration control systems.  For example, Subaru successfully entered Japan in 1992 through a 3-day Shore Pass issued in Tokyo, one stop on his return trip to the Philippines coming from a Hong-Kong trip in the guise of being a tourist.  His declared intention, using fully authentic documents, was that of being a tourist; his real intention was to become a migrant worker.  Below are some of the fully authentic documents used by Subaru which he painstakingly preserved since 1991.
Specimen 1:  Subaru's 1991 Philippine Passport
Specimen 2:  Subaru Entered Hong Kong on the 22nd then Macao on the 23rd
Specimen 3:  Subaru Departed from Macao on the Same Day (23rd)
Specimen 4:  Subaru Entered Japan on the 24th
Manny successfully entered Japan in 2006 on a 30-day visa to accompany his father to get medical treatment. This had been his 4th entry attempt, each visa application giving various declared intentions, all supported by fully authentic documents, but his real intention was to become a migrant worker.

It may also be the case that the authenticity of one’s declared intention may not be immediately false.  A migrant’s intention to become a migrant worker may be formed during a current trip as a valid and legitimate tourist in a destination country.  Zaldy, who had voluntarily surrendered to immigration authorities after 2 years as an overstayer, again returned to Japan but this time as a Trainee, with fully authentic documents and real, declared intentions.  He decided to become an overstayer again as a Trainee program did not bear fruit as he had expected.

A legal migrant, through his regular interaction among his network of friends and acquaintances, may also come into contact with irregular migrants and exchange notes on salary levels and job opportunities available for both legal and unauthorized workers.  This new information from irregular migrants forms a benchmark against which legal migrants are able to compare various work circumstances.  Alex, a Filipino seaman working as a Chief Cook in a Japanese shipping company, was receiving a salary of US$250 a month in 1990.  Every time the ship he was assigned to would dock in Yokohama, he would hear stories from his friends, both legal and irregular, that work in the construction sector paid between 300,000yen to 400,000yen a month, easily 10 times his current salary (at 150yen to 1USD in 1990).  Unlike Zaldy whose transition to irregular status was triggered by internal factors (long working hours, unpaid overtime, etc), Alex became aware of his own work circumstances through external triggers (comparisons with salaries of irregular migrant workers).  In 1996, Alex entered Japan as a tourist with fully authentic documents and with the equally authentic declared intention to be a tourist but with the double intention to scope out and verify for himself information he had began to receive from irregular migrants many years earlier.  Alex eventually went beyond the designated period of stay of his tourist visa, becoming an overstayer working illegally as a helper in a fishing port at Shizuoka.

Figure 4 below incorporates the Authenticity variable to the proposed migrant typology framework.
Figure 4:  Authenticity Variable in Migrant Topology Framework
Plotting out the Authenticity variable across the migrant types highlight some interesting points.  Nearly all the migrant types are subject to misrepresentation of the truth through either document fraud or false intentions, or both.  The objective of migrants in misrepresenting the truth is to overcome the barriers set by migration control so that they can either gain entry or prolong their current stay in a country of destination in order to find or continue working.  To be sure, if only technology that fakes aging exists, migrant workers would also attempt to fake being retirees.  Faking documents for and intentions of being government officials, though not impossible, is not done by migrant hopefuls focusing instead on proven routes such as faking being tourists, students or family descendants.  Migrant workers themselves do not fake their intention of being a migrant worker but they do fake being skilled ones if that is what will get them into a country.  The Authentication variable does not apply to Trafficked Persons.

The examples of Pia(P), Subaru(S), Manny(M), Zaldy(Z) and Alex(A) thus show that the Authenticity variable has a temporal dimension best organized in a matrix as shown below.
Matrix 1:  Temporal Dimension of Authentication Variable
Matrix 1 above shows the two sub-types of the Authentication variable (Documents and Intention) and their two possible values (Authentic, corresponding to the "Yes" or "Yes, Authentic" in Figure 4 above, and Bogus or "No" or "Not Authentic").  The temporal dimension to this variable is represented in the sub-values of Source/Destination (Countries) under Documents, Bogus and the sub-values Authentic/Bogus under Intention, Authentic: that is, that document fraud may occur when the migrant is still in the source country in order to gain entry into the destination country, or in the destination country in order to prolong or legalize the migrant's stay; and that false intentions may start out as authentic, and stay authentic until the migrant's return home, or this originally authentic intention may eventually become a bogus one after some time during the same travel period in question.  The travel periods are represented by the numbers across the letter initials of the migrant examples.

To expound further on the temporal dimension of the authenticity variable in the Japan sojourns of Pia(P), Subaru(S), Manny(M), Zaldy(Z) and Alex(A):
- While still in the Philippines and using her real name but faking her age (as she was only 17yrs old), Pia entered Japan legally on the authentic intention of being an entertainer (P1).
- On her succeeding 5 more 6-month trips to Japan, Pia used all authentic documents to re-enter Japan legally with the authentic intention of being a return-entertainer (P2).
- On her 7th trip to Japan, Pia used a bogus name and bogus status to enter Japan illegally with the bogus intention of being a child of a Japanese national (P3).
- Subaru entered Japan in 1992 using all authentic documents but with a bogus intention (S1).
- During that same trip but now as an overstayer of more than 15 years in Japan, Subaru acquired bogus documents from Manila showing that he was unmarried and planned to use those bogus documents to enter into a bogus marriage in order to legalize his stay in Japan (S2).
- Manny entered Japan legally using all authentic documents but with the bogus intention of accompanying his father on a medical trip (M1).
- Using a fake name and a fake passport, Zaldy arrived at the Narita airport on the fake intention of being a tourist but, upon inspection by airport immigration officers, he was subsequently arrested and deported back to Manila (Z1).
- Just weeks after his first deportation, Zaldy using another fake name and fake passport, Zaldy entered Kansai airport on the fake intention of being a businessman to attend a business conference.  Zaldy successfully got through immigration, overstayed his visa as per his true intention, and voluntarily surrendered after 2 years (Z2).
- Just over a year after his return to the Philippines, Zaldy re-entered Japan legally, this time using all authentic documents and with the authentic intention of being a Trainee (Z3).
- Zaldy eventually escaped the company housing where he was a Trainee, becoming an overstayer for 10 months, but using Type C bogus documents he was able to acquire legal status in Japan by entering into a fake marriage (Z4).
- Alex entered Japan legally using all authentic documents and an authentic intention as a tourist which later on converted to a bogus intention and he overstayed his visa for one year (A1).
- Alex then re-entered Japan illegally using fake documents and with the fake intention of being married to a woman with Japanese descent (A2).

And so, given the inverse relationship I describe above, and the migration control that it justifies, in response to which determined migrants employ whatever tools are necessary, one of which is the authenticity of documents or intentions or both, how can we now rationalize the persistence of irregular migrants into a migrant topology framework?

One way is to say that since the forces that impel a person to seek work overseas are overwhelmingly greater than the national interests that empower migration control, the difference between the demand (of destination countries) and supply (from source countries) of migrants – or the excess of what is defined as the “regular” migration process – now constitutes what is called irregular migration.  Simply put, migrants will continue to come regardless of any current configuration of migration control and those that fall outside of the boundaries of the “regular” are now thus the “irregular” migrants.

[insert diagram]

Another way, looking at the other side of the equation, is to say that granted that the supply of migrants can never be effectively configured to its liking by migration control, if this theorized excess of migrants were unable to find jobs in the destination countries then they would naturally go back to their home countries.  Simply put, migration control cannot do anything to stop migrants from coming but once they have successfully gotten themselves in, and finding nothing for them there, they will most naturally go back home.  It is those migrants that are able to forge through and find a way to persevere in destination countries in ways that are not recognized by the state as consistent with its definition of multiculturalism or of its conception of the inevitabilities of globalization that now become “irregular” migrants, or those who I would like to now refer to as “peripheral” migrants in a destination country-centric migration regime or as “survivor” migrants in a source country-centric migration regime.

[insert diagram]

Second Area of Discord -- Intersection of Migration and Crime: Among the three migration variables thus far discussed – that of volition, motivation and authenticity – I find that it is the last one that is the most compelling.  While the variables of volition and motivation are mostly formed and defined by conditions found in source countries – and thus are largely outside of the effective reach of migration control – the effects of the authenticity variable – forged documents and false intentions – directly impinge upon the direct authority of the destination state.  In other words, destination states through their migration control systems can never fault a migrant for leaving his family of six and gambling everything on attempting to find a job in the destination country.

[continuing article...]