More than 200,000 Cambodians working illegally in Thailand, two-thirds of an estimated 300,000 such migrants, have been reported to Thai officials in a two-week period, Cambodia’s Labor Ministry announced.
Nearly a third of about 694,600 migrant workers—some 203,700—whose employers applied to legalize their work status from July 24 to Monday, were Cambodian, according to a statement released on Monday.
Chhen Sophea, 29, who works at a bakery in Thailand’s Saraburi province, said she and her husband, also a migrant worker, had their passports and work permits, but other Cambodians had rushed home to obtain documents after new Thai labor regulations initially went into effect in June.
“Although the police were trying to crack down, I was not worried because I am a legal worker,” Ms. Sophea said.
About 402,500 workers reported by bosses at about 100 worker centers across Thailand in the same period were from Burma, the statement adds. Some 88,400 were from Laos.
Thousands of Cambodian migrants fled Thailand from late June after Bangkok enacted strict penalties for undocumented workers and their employers. Thailand later suspended enforcement of the new rules until January.
Undocumented workers have until September 9 to present themselves to Thai authorities with valid identification in order to secure proper work documents, the statement says.
Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour on Tuesday declined to answer questions about how Cambodian migrants were managing the registration process.
Nearly 60,000 Cambodian laborers working illegally in Thailand were reported by employers from July 24 to 29, the first week registration was available.