Mahia, 8, a Bangladeshi girl, left for her country Wednesday. Actually, she is not a Bangladeshi, at least not yet, and may not become one for quite some time. Nor is she a Korean, although she was born, grew up and attended school here. The poor girl is one of more than 4,000 children of illegal immigrants, who can hardly lead normal lives in Korea without health care benefits and decent education. So they leave this country for their parents’ homeland, which may not recognize them as citizens if they have to be treated by the principle of territorial nationality, unlike Korea which adheres to the principle of personal jurisdiction. Many such children become stateless only because they were born to illegal immigrants and in Korea. This is simply inhumane. The time has long past for the world’s 15th-largest economy to show more tolerance and flexibility not to punish these youngsters for problems they cannot be held accountable for. Their parents, mostly from poorer Southeast Asian countries, live in constant fear of their children being bullied by Korean children or fallen ill because of the expensive medical bills as they have no health insurance. All the government is doing for them is to look over their schooling up to the stage of elementary school. It is very hard to find such children in high schools. In the United States which applies territorial principles, any child born in the country is considered a citizen. Even children who enter into America with parents who are illegal immigrants can stay in the country for five years, after which they can apply for permanent residency and then citizenship. Their parents may be able to seek citizenships if they stay in the U.S. for 10 years without committing any crimes. Germany provides home care allowances and educational subsidies to the children of illegal aliens. We are pleased in this regard to hear that Rep. Park Young-sun of the Democratic Party is about to sponsor a bill to rectify this dire situation, by allowing children who live in Korea for five years or more to stay here, and provide them with health care and educational opportunities. The National Assembly must make it a law by all means. Even countries that once supported racism, such as the U.S. and Australia, have provided leniency for illegal aliens through occasional pardons. The Korean society has not given a single opportunity to illegal immigrants to become its members. Can Korea still say it is determined to become a multicultural society?
Source: Korea Times (2013.05.10) (http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2013/05/137_135492.html)