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First-time recognition of a Chinese asylum seeker as a Convention refugee
Obtaining damages against the Korean Federation of Small and Medium Businesses for failing to provide industrial training to migrants despite accepting their fees
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[Immigration] Rulings of the Lawsuit for the Revocation of Stay of Sojourn Cancellation and Disapproval of Extension of Stay of MTU President 2012.05.03 15:05 5091
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[Immigration] Rulings of the Lawsuit for the Revocation of Stay of Sojourn Cancellation and Disapproval of Extension of Stay of MTU President


I couldnt put myself to sleep on the night of September 14. Perhaps it was because of my dream r just my imagination, but an ominous feeling came over me on the way to work. My heart started pounding even faster as the time approached 10 in the morning. Finally, I received the call that I had been waiting for. We won! We won the whole case!


I obviously felt anxious before the ruling as an attorney, but my nervousness was not to be compared to that of the litigant. We attorneys deal with numerous cases that are not directly related to ourselves. However, there was something different about this case. Although this lawsuit was about an individual the MTU (Migrants Trade Union) President the ruling on this individual could have had a long-lasting and profound impact on the lives of the migrant workers in general. Most importantly, I was enraged by the attitude and practice of the Immigration Office in the course of the trial.


Earlier in February 10, 2011, Seoul Immigration Office had cancelled the MTU Presidents status of sojourn and issued an order of deportation. Moreover, although the cancellation of the status of sojourn and the order of deportation had both been suspended, the Seoul Immigration Court did not permit the extension of stay and gave a notification of deportation in March 17, 2011. In response, Gong-gam the Presidents legal representative filed a lawsuit against the Seoul Immigration Office for the revocation of the following: order for deportation, cancellation of status of sojourn, and disapproval of the extension of stay. Later on, attorneys Young-gook Kwon and Hye-in Cho also joined the lawsuit. The Immigration Office argued that the MTU President changed the workplace illegally to participate in MTU activities. However, considering the fact that all former MTU Presidents had been deported by the Immigration Office while the former MTU Presidents were undocumented workers, the current President was staying legally under an E-9 visa it is reasonable to conclude that the Immigration Office had a clear aim of suppressing MTU activities.


Such conclusion was also evident in the proof submitted by the Immigration Office. The Immigration Office collected news reports on the Presidents MTU activities, which was irrelevant to their main claim that the President switched the workplace illegally. In the course of the lawsuit, the Immigration Office even made arguments like the following: The main purpose of the Employment Permit System (EPS) is in advancing the interests of small and medium enterprises by smooth supply of labor; thus, immigrant workers should not engage in labor activities and only concentrate on their work. When they cannot work due to closure of business, etc, then they should return to their country of origin. Such arguments must have been possible because immigrant workers were perceived (by the Immigrant Office) as mere instruments and means to labor.


In the end, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The court held that MTU Presidents workplace change is valid and did not involve any illegal means. Moreover, basic rights of laborers, including right to organize and right to collective action, are also recognized for migrant workers who have become a part of our society on the basis of Article 6 of our Constitution, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, etc. The judge also added that there is a doubt that the Seoul Immigration Office actually carried out such measures because of the plaintiffs activities as MTU President, instead of the ostensible reasons. In addition, Seoul Administrative Court suspended the execution of all decisions by the Immigration Office until the ruling was finalized. 


The courts ruling and decision is significant in that it recognized the rights of immigrant workers and put a halt to the Immigration Offices abuse of power. However, the Seoul Immigration Office is not abiding by the decision of the court. After the ruling, MTU President visited the Seoul Immigration Office once again to apply for the extension of stay, but it was turned away. We still have a long way to go.



Ji-young, Yoon, attorney of Gong-gam