Helping migrants to obtain proper documentation and avoid deportation. Do not trust anyone who promises to help you cross a border without the right documentation.
September 2016—Samnang*, a 33-year-old from Banteay Meanchey province in Cambodia, learned the hard way that working abroad without the right documents is not worth the enormous risk. Thai authorities deported him after they discovered him working illegally in the construction sector in Prachinburi province.
“Do not trust anyone who promises to help you cross a border without the right documentation,” said Samnang.
In order to better prepare migrants like Samnang, USAID and IOM X (link is external) released a six-minute animated video, Know Before You Go (link is external), in February 2016. The video, available in Khmer with English subtitles, provides guidance on how to migrate safely and legally.
Since its release, the video has been a mainstay at the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Migrant Resource Center in Poi Pet, on the Cambodia-Thailand border. Produced following extensive research and consultation with target groups, the video has been screened at the Resource Center for an estimated 12,000 returned migrants.
“We screen Know Before You Go for every group of returned Cambodian migrants that arrives,” said Brett Dickson, a program officer at IOM Cambodia. “It’s important for returned migrants to understand the reasons they have to leave Thailand, and the video enables them to be better prepared migrants in the future.”
“After watching the video, I now know what documentation is required to work legally in another country,” said Samnang. “If I migrate again for work, I will get a passport and a visa first.”
Authorities also deported Chan Dara*, a 43-year-old from Tbung Khmum province in Cambodia, who had been working illegally in Thailand’s Prachinburi province.
“I wasted a lot of time and money by making the decision to migrate for work without being prepared,” he said. “Next time, I will do it differently, with all the required documents. I hope all irregular migrants have a chance to watch Know Before You Go, and will decide, like me, to become regular migrants.”
“If all aspirant migrants watch this video, they will think about the complications that can be caused by traveling without a passport, from unemployment to becoming a victim of human trafficking,” said Sopheap*, an 18-year-old from Banteay Meanchey province in Cambodia who worked illegally as a waiter in Bangkok. “If you don’t have a passport, don’t cross the border.”
An estimated 12 percent of Cambodia’s working population has migrated to Thailand for work, and 80 percent of these migrants went through irregular channels. Every month, approximately 3,500 Cambodians are sent home through the Poi Pet border after working illegally in Thailand.
Know Before You Go provides guidance on many aspects related to migration, including how to safeguard identification, why it's important to stay in regular communication with family at home, and, for those going abroad, the importance of a valid passport, visa and work permit.
Other tips include leaving copies of personal identification at home and memorizing phone numbers of important contacts, such as a friend who lives in the country or an NGO.