PUTRAJAYA: Sectors with illegal workers should brace for a chaotic time when a nationwide operation to flush out illegal immigrants kicks off on Jan 21.
When a similar crackdown was launched late last year, the plantation, construction and manufacturing sectors were most affected when the illegal workers abandoned their jobs to hide from authorities.
Employers also cried foul, protesting that they did not know their workers were illegals because they had recruited them through employment agents.
They also claimed that many of the workers were in the process of being registered and legalised, but the paperwork had yet to be finalised.
A special three-month programme for the management of illegal immigrants was then introduced by the Home Ministry.
This was to enable employers claiming to have been cheated by employment agents to register their illegal workers and apply for them to be legalised, or to sort out any documentation that was pending.
That grace period is almost over and only 3,951 workers were registered in the past three months, according to the Home Ministry. There are an estimated one million illegal workers in the country.
The crackdown starting from Jan 21 will take place one day after the special programme expires.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said there would not be any extension of the programme.
He reminded employers that they have only the next 10 days to register illegal workers on their premises under the programme.
“Do not wait until the last day when all the immigration offices are congested to make the applications.
“We have given ample time,” he said after launching the I-Kad for immigrant workers here yesterday, according to Bernama.
The operation will involve the Immigration Department, police and Rela officers.
Ahmad Zahid said the cost of deporting illegal immigrants to their countries of origin would be borne by the immigrants themselves, their employers or the missions of those nations.
“The Government will not use public funds to deport them. We have discussed this with the respective foreign missions,” he said.
According to him, biometric fingerprint registration would be done on all the illegal immigrants before deportation to ensure that they would not be able to return to Malaysia under a different name.
Bernama also reported that some 2.3 million foreign workers here must have the I-Kad by the year-end. This is a move to solve the problem of illegal immigrants in the country.
Ahmad Zahid said the I-Kad would be issued in stages according to sectors and be colour coded.
He said the I-Kad had high-tech security capabilities such as biometric fingerprint feature, Nexcode mobile data security and a contactless chip.
“The employers or workers will have to apply for the card at RM110 each,” he said.
Percetakan Nasional Malaysia Bhd has been appointed to supply the I-Kad.
The use of the I-Kad was enforced on Nov 15 last year.
Ahmad Zahid said the I-Kad would make it easy to track foreign workers in 10 sectors in the country and avoid forgery.
Its security features would be upgraded in the second phase, he added.
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