For most illegal workers in Saudi Arabia, it’s a one-way trip back home

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The border strip between Saudi Arabia and Yemen in Jazan region has witnessed a continuous flow of illegal workers following the end of the grace period for rectification of status of workers violating residency and labor regulations.

Thousands of violators have been trying to sneak into Yemen from the Kingdom to avoid being fingerprinted, as this will prevent them from returning to the Kingdom in the future.

Others formed long lines with their vehicles at the gate in al-Tuwal border post after obtaining exit-only visas.

In a preemptive move, violators of residency laws in Jazan attempted to sneak into Yemeni from the Kingdom but were stopped by Border Guard personnel and other security bodies lying in wait for them.

All roads leading to the Yemeni border were full of illegal workers carrying their belongings on their backs.

Okaz/Saudi Gazette spoke to several violators at al-Tuwal border post and along the border strip between the two countries.

Hassan Abdu Hassan, 33, said he wanted to return to Yemen by sneaking across the border, as he feared he would be forced to pay penalties for violating the Kingdom’s residency and labor regulations.

Hassan said he came to the Kingdom a year ago illegally by sneaking across the border.

“How I wish not to return to my country as I can earn a living in the Kingdom to support my children back home. However, at the same time I don’t want to be subjected to the new penalties imposed by the Saudi government on violators and it is for this reason that I decided to return to my children,” he said.

A large number of violators wishing to return to Yemen gathered in front of the border post and slept in the open or in nearby abandoned buildings until the completion of procedures for their departure. Othman Abdu said he had been stuck at the border crossing for the past two days. He wanted to cross into Yemen but had to wait for exit procedures to be completed.

A security source told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that most Yemenis trying to sneak across the border were simply trying to avoid being fingerprinted so they could come back later. However, authorities were running background checks on anyone caught trying to sneak across the border to make sure no pending criminal cases existed against them.

The Border Guard Command in Jazan confirmed the arrest of 8,000 violators, many of who were wanted in criminal cases. Arrested violators were provided services including meals and healthcare.

The Command said 3,000 people were deported on the first day following the end of the grace period while the remaining 5,000 are waiting to have their fingerprints taken.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 10, 2013. http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20131110186231