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September 21, 2017

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Human traffickers could be drawn to Taiwan passports over VWP: officials

TAIPEI--The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) warned yesterday of the potential threat of Taiwanese passports becoming more attractive to human traffickers now that Taiwan is to be included in the U.S. visa-waiver program.

Even though Taiwan uses electronic passports that are difficult to forge, the public should take good care of their passports and should not sell personal information to human smugglers, said Lo Li-fan,director of the CIB's international division, at a press conference organized by the legislative caucus of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT).

According to the Passport Act, providing personal information for forging illegal documents is a criminal offense. Violators may face a prison term of up to five years.

Chen Chien-cheng, deputy commander of the National Immigration Agency's Border Affairs Corps, said the existence of forged documents could affect Taiwan's membership status in the U.S. visa-waiver program.

The U.S. conducts biannual inspections of its visa-waiver members before deciding whether to continue offering inclusion in the program.

Greece was once stripped of its visa-waiver privileges, Chen noted.

Taiwan's e-Gate system has been highly accredited by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Chen said, adding that the National Immigration Agency will step up efforts on border controls to make sure Taiwan retains its membership in the U.S. visa-waiver program.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng downplayed misgivings among the public that Taiwan was included in the visa-waiver treatment only by lifting its ban on imports of U.S. beef containing gractopamine. He said that the U.S. is the 129th country to provide visa-waiver treatment to Taiwan.

He added that visa-waiver programs now cover about 97.72 percent of the destinations most popular among Taiwanese travelers.

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