Kuwait may be forced to put on hold or slow down its campaign against expats because its jails are becoming too overcrowded, an unnamed Interior Ministry official has said.
About 25,000 people have been arrested during police raids on suspected illegal workers this year, according to the source quoted in local Arabic newspaper Al-Qabas.
Almost 6000 of those arrested have been deported, with thousands more held in jails while authorities attempt to determine their legal status.
Employers have been forced to sign various declarations and undertakings to secure the detainees’ release, the official said.
Authorities also have targeted expats who are working with the incorrect visa, including those with only a domestic helper visa working for more than one household or a private firm.
The ministry official said nearly 1000 employers had been blacklisted for allowing domestic workers to work for others.
About 500 companies also had been blacklisted for visa trafficking.
The country’s traffic chief said earlier this month almost 12,000 foreigners had been deported from Kuwait for traffic violations in the past two-and-a-half years, including about 4000 this year.
The Interior Ministry official said the process of deporting illegal residents had become slow because a maximum of five people were deported per flight for security reasons and only the national airline, Kuwait Airways, was used.
Expatriates have been particularly targeted since Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al- Rashidi announced in March the government would deport 100,000 foreigners each of the next 10 years as it strives to cut the expatriate population by 1m.
It is estimated there are about 90,000 illegal residents in Kuwait, where two-thirds of the country’s 3.8m population are expatriates.
The crackdown and deportations have been widely criticised by foreign diplomats, human rights groups, expats and the private sector.
The oil-dependent state relies on low paid foreigners to fill the vast majority of private sector jobs.