Illegal immigrants are not just a problem for the West, Thailand is plagued with illegal immigrants in areas near the country's borders. Many arrive to work in labour industries for wages which, although low for Thailand, represent a better opportunity than at home.
Northern areas have particular issues with visitors, often from Burma, who play cat and mouse with police trying to avoid the vehicle stop-searches which check visas to root out illegal stayers.
This move is interesting as it is an acknowledgement that the problem has become unmanageable. Rather than working to turf out existing illegal workers AND stop more joining, the police will just focus their efforts on preventing more entering the country.
The article has further info:
Once registered, the around 2 million or so migrant workers will be allowed to work in the sectors of fishery, marine food processing, farming, livestock, construction and domestic services. Getting them registered is a move to stop more from entering Thailand and working illegally.All workers will be allowed to work illegally in Thailand until February 28, 2010.After that they will be required to register with provincial labour offices, apply for medical checkups and pay health insurance fees, before applying for a work permit. A national joint effort by police, the military and civilian authorities will begin before the deadline to keep more migrants from entering Thailand.