Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Illegal Immigrants Must Stay Away

IT was reported in the press early this week that Immigration Department officers have apprehended 96 illegal immigrants who were travelling in a lorry.

The aliens were in Longido District when the law enforcement officers rounded them up. According to Arusha Regional Commissioner Daniel Namomba, all the immigrants hail from Ethiopia... that is not surprising.

Many groups of immigrating Ethiopians or Somalis have been apprehended in the country in recent years. However, there is an unpleasant twist in this tail this time around - four Tanzanians, who were in the company of the immigrants and who are believed to be human traffickers, had helped them cross the border and were now taking them to an unknown destination.

It is imperative to point out here that this nation is downright tired of grappling with illegal immigrants who cross our borders through informal routes (panya routes) and some mingle with the population in urban centres, where they end up causing mayhem.

Other immigrants meet the ultimate ordeal in the course of travel in this country. In June, this year, 43 illegal immigrants from Ethiopia and Somalia died in a container truck in which they were travelling on their way to Malawi, as survivors claimed.

In 2008, some 36 aliens from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were apprehended and were repatriated back home after legal action. During the same year 53 illegal immigrants from Somalia were rounded up and repatriated. Similar incidents have occurred in Mbeya, Arusha and other regions.

In most cases the immigrants do not possess travel documents. They often refuse to reveal their identities and invariably, parade wrong names and nationalities. They often claim that they are en route to another country. Most of the groups claim to be heading for Malawi or South Africa.

A few years ago one group made it to Tunduma where immigration officers were amazed to see more children than adults. Immigration officers have virtually failed to control illegal immigrants, some of whom come to pursue economic prosperity. Some groups often constitute smugglers of counterfeit goods and opportunists who are keen on improving their livelihoods.

Most of these aliens normally avoid going through the rigmarole of immigration procedures to avoid either arrests or travel costs which include mandatory fees. In some cases the aliens collude with locals including corrupt immigration officers and police.

It is imperative to mention here that all sorts of illegal immigrants must be prevented from entering Tanzanian territory. It is high time the state stemmed the rot. Tanzania is for indigenous Tanzanians. Legal aliens are welcome but illegal immigrants and criminals should stay away.

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