Da Nang restricts immigration in 'unconstitutional' move

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Legislators in the central city of Da Nang Friday approved a resolution that will tighten the granting of permanent residency status to people from other provinces.

Under the resolution passed by the city's People's Council, the municipal legislature, Da Nang will suspend receiving applications for permanent residency from immigrants who don't have their own accommodation and stable jobs.

The suspension will remain in effect until the central government issues new implementation guidelines for the Residence Law.

According to the resolution, Da Nang will also tighten its control and scrutinize local agencies' management regarding residence, especially applications for permanent and temporary residency permits.

Nguyen Ba Thanh, chairman of the People's Council, said that the city will also restrict people with residence registered in outskirts areas from moving their residence to central districts.

"People with criminal records will not be allowed to acquire  permanent residence in the city," said Thanh, who is also chief of the city party unit.

Explaining the resolution's rationale, Luong Nguyet Thu, chief of the council's legal committee, said that 24.9 percent of people charged with crimes this year were people from other provinces, which was really a remarkable figure.

It was also causing difficulties to the city's efforts to deal with problems related to social policies with many unskilled laborers and peddlers gathering in Da Nang, according to the committee.

Meanwhile, the city's Department of Education and Training said that local schools were overcrowded with students, partly because people sought permanent residence status for their children so they could study in the city's schools.

"If the city's population increases together with "˜quality,' there's nothing wrong. But if only the number of peddlers, lottery sellers and unskilled laborers go up, we should stop it," Thanh said.

Some legal experts have questioned the resolution.

Lawyer Cao Minh Triet of the Bar Association in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang said the resolution contravened the country's Constitution, which states that every citizen is equal before law and enjoys the freedom of moving and residing anywhere in Vietnam.

The Residence Law also bans all acts that restrict people's residence freedom, and Da Nang's action does not fall under any category of residence-restricting acts allowable under the law, Triet said.

On the other hand, lawyer Do Phap of the Da Nang Bar Association said there was nothing wrong with Da Nang restricting people from other provinces without stable accommodations and jobs from acquiring the city's permanent residency.

The city is making urban improvements and re-organizing its residents, Phap said. Due to the characteristics of the city's development, it is necessary for municipal authorities to issue policies to restrict the flow of immigrants with no stable jobs, he said.

It was estimated that 11,356 families with 114,290 people currently have temporary residence status in Da Nang, accounting for 11.5 percent of its population.

Under Vietnam's Residence Law, people who continuously live at one place under temporary residency for more than one year are eligible to apply for permanent residency status.

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