Immigration dept set sights on ‘slavery’ syndicates after amnesty programme ends

  • Nation
  • Friday, 31 Aug 2018

PUTRAJAYA: The large-scale operation against illegal immigrants, which begins today following the expiry of the 3+1 amnesty programme, will also focus on busting human trafficking syndicates, said Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali.

He said the operation dubbed Ops Mega 3.0 would target syndicates involved in “modern-day slavery”.

“These syndicates claim to bring foreign workers for a specific sector or industry but the workers end up working in other sectors altogether.

“We busted a syndicate at Jalan Masjid India recently where the workers registered to work at certain premises were instead based elsewhere,” he told a press conference after attending the department’s monthly assembly yesterday.

The operation against illegal immigrants, will also see the department cross-referencing their internal data on foreign workers and immigrants with that of other agencies and ministries, as well as respective embassies, he added.

“We want to ensure that we have all our bases covered.

“We will also work closely with local councils to ensure that no illegals escape our net,” he said.

Mustafar cited an example of working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), whereby the department detected certain illegal immigrants using fake UNHCR cards.

“Cross-agency cooperation is of utmost importance,” he said.

Between 2014 and Aug 28 this year, a total of 867,336 illegal immigrants signed up for the amnesty programme and returned to their home countries.

“We will not extend it beyond the Aug 30 deadline.

“Starting Aug 31 (today), we will nab illegal immigrants nationwide,” he said.

Between Jan 1 and Aug 29 this year, the department conducted 9,449 enforcement operations and checked 116,270 foreigners, resulting in 29,040 illegals nabbed and 879 employers detained.

“Among the highest arrests were those from Indonesia with 9,759, followed by Bangladesh (5,959), the Philippines (2,820) and Myanmar (2,715),” he said.

Mustafar also hit out at certain groups who demanded that the department slow down its enforcement ops, as the total of those arrested represented only a small percentage of those checked.

“It shows we are only after those who are here illegally,” he said.

Asked how many illegal immigrants are still in the country, Mustafar said it was hard to ascertain.

He said the department will not compromise on matters concerning the country’s security and sovereignty.

“Let us mark Aug 31 as not only our National Day but a day that marks the stepping up of efforts to free the country of illegal immigrants,” he said.

The Star highlighted on its front page yesterday that massive operations on illegal immigrants will start today after the end of the amnesty programme.

The amnesty programme, which enables illegal immigrants to pay a RM300 fine and RM100 for a special pass that allows them to return to their respective countries, ended yesterday.

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