PUTRAJAYA: Come Sunday, the authorities will be hunting down an estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants in the nation’s biggest ever operation to flush out unwanted foreigners.
The operation will involve some 135,000 personnel from the Immigration Department, police, Armed Forces, Rela, Civil Defence, National Registration Department and local councils.
The Immigration Department is the lead agency.
The authorities will conduct raids mainly in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor which have been identified as the dens for illegals.
Once arrested, they will be deported immediately as the Immigration Department does not want its 12 detention centres around the country, each with a capacity of 1,000 people, to be overcrowded.
Employers found hiring illegals could be charged under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (Amendment 2010).
Immigration director-general Datuk Alias Ahmad said the department would seek the cooperation of foreign missions through Wisma Putra to issue the illegals with travelling documents to speed up their deportation.
Director General of Immigration Department Dato Alias Ahmad who is one of the witness during Royal Commission of Inquiry into Sabah’s illegal immigrant problem hearing at the Kota Kinabalu High Court yesterday.
Datuk Alias Ahmad
The operation was targeting those who registered under the Illegal Immigrant Comprehensive Settlement Programme or 6P but did not turn up for further processing, including legalisation and voluntary deportation, he told The Star.
During the registration, which was conducted for three months ending in October 2011, about 1.3 million of the estimated two million undocumented foreigners registered.
Of those registered, 500,000 applications for legalisation were processed while 330,000 were repatriated.
“We have given them more than a year to take up the offer.
“It is now time for full enforcement,” Alias said, adding that the majority of the targets were Indonesians who would be deported from the Pasir Gudang Port in Johor.
It is understood that the others include Bangladeshis, Myanmar nationals, Vietnamese and Nepalese.
Alias said the operation would be like “a cat and mouse” game, but “we are fully prepared for it”.
“We are aware that they know we are coming for them, and come Sunday, they will suddenly disappear.”
“They can hide, but how long can they hide?
“This is not a one-off crackdown but a three-month non-stop operation throughout the country,” he said.
Alias warned that people found guilty of hiring or harbouring illegals may be fined up to RM500,000 and jailed a maximum of 20 years.
He said the authorities would also come down hard on errant employers because they had been given ample time to register and legalise their foreign workers.
“There is no point in surrendering the illegals now,” Alias added.