KUALA LUMPUR: The government is working on a new and holistic approach to deal with illegal immigrants issues by roping in help from all levels of society, says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
The Home Minister said he will chair an upcoming meeting attended by all state governments' representatives, officials from the ministry and also Immigration Department to discuss further on the matter.
"We will get cooperation from all levels of society - the state governments, the security councils at both state and district levels as well as the village security committees.
"If we can rope them all in to assist voluntarily, we will be stronger to bring down the number of illegal immigrants.
"We will call for the meeting to decide the actions we want to take so that (our effort) is not just focused in one place," he said after joining an integrated operation by the Immigration Department and Civil Defence Department at Kampung Baru and Chow Kit area on Tuesday (May 28) night.
Also present was Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud.
Muhyiddin said a nationwide integrated network of information sharing will strengthen enforcement.
"It will be good if we can get more voluntary help from the society.
"They won't have the power to arrest, but more on feeding information on the places (with illegal immigrants) and what activities are being conducted.
"These are important for us so that the Immigration Department can take relevant action," he said, adding that the meeting will be called after the Hari Raya festive season.
By getting all levels of society involved, Muhyiddin said they will become the eyes, ears and hands of the government.
"The issue of illegal immigrants has been around for a long time and has become a major national issue.
"They not only break the rules but also do businesses, probably with help from locals.
"For me this is not just an immigration issue, but also a national issue and we want the people and local leaders to get involved to help us, like a nationwide integrated network of enforcement," he said, adding that he will bring it up in Cabinet.
Meanwhile, a total of 235 immigrants were screened during the operation and 134 were rounded up for various offences, such as permit abuse, no valid document, overstaying and invalid credentials.
A male toddler was amongst those arrested including 33 women. All of them were aged between 18 and 45.
About 200 enforcement officers took part in the operation, which began at 9.30pm.
Muhyiddin also noted a total of 22,473 illegal immigrants have been arrested nationwide during operations as of May 27.
"A total of 577 employers have been arrested, while 11,994 illegal immigrants and 312 employers have been charged in court.
"Illegal immigrants from Indonesia tops among those arrested at 16,098 people, followed by Bangladeshi (10,039) and Filipino (4,669)," he said, adding that 28,853 illegal immigrants have been deported this year.